By Tara Santos
Students at Tallahassee Community College, often cross paths with the seven academic deans, although they may not realize it.
“I don’t even know about the deans,” said TCC student, Daja Rutledge.
Although the students may be unaware of the deans or who they are, they still understand they are people just like everybody else.
“They’re people,” said Jessica Brown, a TCC student. “They just have a title over their name and they have a little more authority.”
Dr. Sheri Rowland:
For the past three years, Dr. Sheri Rowland has been the dean of Enrollment Management, supervising the Enrollment Services and Student Success department.
Born in Wisconsin, Rowland has lived in Florida and Missouri for most of her life. During the 10 years she lived in Missouri, she attended Southeast Missouri State University, where she received both her bachelor’s and her master’s degrees. Later, she received her doctorate at Florida State University in higher education.
“I think I have one of the best jobs in the world because it lets me do what I do best . . . which is work with people, help develop solutions to problems, and then provide encouragement to help students accomplish their goals,” Rowland said. “I can leave work each day knowing that I made a difference in someone’s life and future.”
Outside of work, Rowland is as normal as normal can get.
“I have a wonderful husband and dog,” Rowland said. She and her husband have a Labrador/Bulldog mix named Leo.
“I love being an aunt,” said Rowland, who has a niece and nephew.
Outside of her immediate family, she is also very dedicated to her church family at a local Baptist church.
“I am a follower of Christ,” Rowland said proudly.
In her downtime, Rowland loves to read.
“That’s my stress reliever,” Rowland said.
She also enjoys using her iPad.
“I do like Apple products,” Rowland said. “I have an interest in technology for fun.”
As much as Rowland helps students at Enrollment Services and Student Success, she cheers them on at TCC athletic events.
“I am a strong supporter of TCC athletics,” Rowland said. “So you might find me at TCC Athletic events, especially basketball.”
Rowland has a lot of passion for the work that she does and for the students that she helps.
“In the Enrollment Services and Student Success department, I see our role as student advocates,” Rowland said. “We want students to know they are important to us and that we are here to help them succeed.”
Dr. Sally Search
Dr. Sally P. Search has been the dean for the Division of Academic Support for five years.
“I’m originally from England and I left,” said Search. “I wanted to see the world.”
Search attended a community college in Charlottesville, Va. She earned her bachelor’s and her master’s in math education and earned her doctorate in instructional systems.
For 20 years, Search worked as full-time faculty before becoming the dean. She lead the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Reaccreditation at TCC in 2003-2004, started the Center for Teaching Excellence and worked on many projects in the vice president’s office.
“TCC provided me with many opportunities to develop my leadership skills,” Search said.
As the dean, Search’s passion for helping students burns brightly.
“I believe in trying to do my best everyday, to come in with a smile on my face,” Search said. “[The students] deserve the best they can get.”
“I have a very committed group of people and a wonderful group of students,” Search said. “I love my faculty; I love my staff; I love my students; I love TCC.”
Away from her love at TCC, Search enjoys a plethora of activities.
“I love hiking, fishing, gardening, reading, traveling,” Search listed. “I love spending time with my husband.”
The adventurous dean shared the places she visited as she sought out the world.
“I’ve been to Australia, China, quite a few places in Europe,” Search said.
“My favorite place is probably my back porch. I love going places, but I love coming home.”
Dr. Alice Nied
Before becoming the Dean of Health Care Professions at TCC, Dr. Alice Nied worked in a variety of clinical nursing capacities for almost 20 years.
Inspired by the “Cherry Ames” books while growing up in Gary, Ind., Nied decided to become a nurse.
“I was fascinated in the versatility of nursing,” Nied said.
Nied studied to become a nurse at a hospital-based diploma program in Chicago. Eventually, she received her bachelor’s at Purdue University, her master’s at Indiana University and her doctorate at University of North Florida. All of her degrees are in nursing.
For several years, Nied worked as an instructor, director and assistant dean at colleges in Indiana, Illinois, and Jacksonville, Fla. She came to TCC four years ago and, last year, accepted the position of dean of Health Care Professions.
While Nied is away from her office at the Ghazvini Center, she spends her time like most other people.
“I absolutely adore basketball,” Nied said as she explained the love affair between Hoosiers and the sport of basketball.
When she isn’t watching basketball, Nied shows off her creative side: quilting.
With her hands full with TCC, basketball and quilting, Nied still finds time for her loved ones.
“I’m very interested in my grandson [who will be starting college soon in another state],” Nied said.
With her grandson far away, she keeps company with her three cats and her two dogs, both Golden Retrievers, Sabrina, a rescue dog, and Samantha.
“[College] is hard and it takes time, but it’s worth it,” said Nied. “Education changes lives and we change lives on a daily basis.”
Dr. Calandra Stringer
The newest member of the academic deans is Dr. Calandra Stringer as the Associate Dean for Cirriculum, and is in her first year.
After growing up in Dublin, Ga, Stringer attended Paine College in Augusta, Ga for her bachelor’s and the University of Central Florida for her master’s, both in applied mathematics. For her doctorate in math education, Stringer attended Florida State University.
Stringer started out as a professor at TCC and, last year, she became the dean.
Despite this, her former students still pay her visits and ask for advising.
“My students still come and talk,” Stringer said. “I like to the see the students.”
In her free time, Stringer plays the piano and reads.
“I love playing piano and I love to read,” Stringer said.
Although she lives in Tallahassee, her family, whom she is close to, still lives in her hometown, a 4-hour drive north.
“I still go back and visit once a month,” Stringer said.
Dr. Monte S. Finkelstein
Dr. Monte S. Finkelstein became the dean for the division of History and Social Sciences in 2004.
“I’m originally from New York City,” Finkelstein said. “My parents dragged me to [Miami in] South Florida.”
To get away from Miami, Finkelstein attended FSU, where, during the 1960s and 1970s, he participated in the various protests that took place.
“I joined in many activities,” Finkelstein said. “I was no leader, just a participant, just like many people.”
He received all three of his degrees in history and wrote his dissertation for his doctorate on modern Italian history, which allowed him to live in Rome for a year during the late 1970s.
“A student should always travel if they have the opportunity because it would really help broaden their horizons,” Finkelstein said.
Finkelstein started as an adjunct professor at TCC in 1970, then during the 1980s, he moved back to Rome for a year to do research.
“I consider Rome my second home other than Tallahassee,” Finkelstein said. “I’m an Italian by osmosis.”
Finally, in 1984, Finkelstein became full-time faculty at TCC.
When the position for the dean opened, Finkelstein went for it.
“I took the job as dean for the challenge,” he said. “I thought I could help the students in a much broader way.”
When Finkelstein took on the challenge, he took on a new office, which now houses an assortment of toys and items that express who the Dean of History and Social Sciences is.
“The office is very reflective of me: eclectic and kinda little-kiddish,” Finkelstein said laughingly. “I have this deep interest in Star Wars and Star Trek.”
Out of all of the toys and collectibles from his “deep interest,” and the historical souvenirs and gifts from students that clutter his office, his favorite item is a poster that holds all of the wisdom of Yoda from Star Wars, which is strategically hung across from his desk.
“I still think of myself as a young person and I hope I stay that way for the rest of my life,” Finkelstein said. “I was always a big kid.”
When Finkelstein isn’t surrounded by his collection at his office, he is surrounded by it at home, where there are more, Finkelstein said.
Aside from being an avid collector, Finkelstein enjoys downtime.
“I love to read,” he said. “I never lost my curiosity for knowledge. I’ve always had it.”
Dr. Marge Banocy-Payne
Growing up in Latrobe, Pa., TCC’s Communications and Humanities dean, Dr. Marge Banocy-Payne, never dreamt of ever becoming a dean.
“I didn’t have a plan to become an administrator; I had a plan to become a teacher,” Banocy-Payne said. “I planned out my life to teach.”
To become a teacher, Banocy-Payne attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
“Yes, that does exist,” she said humorously.
While there, she earned her bachelor’s in English and sociology and her master’s in reading.
After working in public schools in Pennsylvania and working with the school district that encases Punxsutawney, Pa., Banocy-Payne moved to Florida, where after working at Wakulla High School, she earned her doctorate at Florida State University in reading and language arts.
“I fell in love with Tallahassee; met my husband and I’m working at the best job I could ask for,” she said fondly. “I’ve been at TCC for 30 years; 15 years teaching and 15 years as the dean.”
As the dean, Banocy-Payne heads the Communications and Humanities division along with all of the theatre shows, art exhibits, and foreign language, which she holds a deep interest in.
“I took Latin, Spanish, and French in high school and then continued Latin in college,” Banocy-Payne said, as she explained how, although she’s not fluent, she still stops and speaks to the students with the little she knows.
Aside from heading the division and the arts that come with it, Banocy-Payne publishes The Talon newspaper and the Eyrie magazine.
“I never see the finished product until it comes out,” Banocy-Payne said.
“I’ve been very very fortunate in this division,” she said.
Although “much of [her] day is spent [at TCC]”, she still finds some downtime, the dean said.
“Reading is my main love,” Banocy-Payne said. “I will read anything.”
When she isn’t lost in a book, she enjoys spending as much time with her husband as she can, she said.
“He is my first love,” Banocy-Payne said warmly.
Dr. Franklin Brown
Dr. Franklin Brown, Dean of Science and Mathematics, grew up in Zanesville, Ohio, known for its “Y” bridge.
“It’s one of two in the world,” Brown said.
Brown earned his bachelor’s in chemistry from Muskingum University, home of the Elk Eye. He received his doctorate in theoretical chemisty at Ohio State University.
“All my research was solving mathematical equations on computers,” Brown said.
During his postdoctoral, he did his research at the University of Minnesota.
“I came to TCC in 1989 as a chemistry instructor,” Brown said. “I became the Science Program chair in the late 1990s at TCC, became the Dean in 2000 and I’ve served ever since.”
However, not all of his work time is spent in his office in the Science and Mathematics building.
“When I have the chance, I enjoy riding the [StarMetro] bus and am able to read and do work on it,” Brown said.
Brown explained how he had to have eye surgery, causing him to ride the bus to and from work.
“I had detached retinas in both eyes,” Brown said. “Not at the same time!” he added with a laugh.
Aside from needing to ride the bus because of his eyes, Brown said that he rides it because it’s good for the environment.
As somebody who cares for the environment, he also enjoys vegetable gardening.
“Vegetables always taste the best when they are allowed to ripen in the garden and are freshly picked,” Brown said.
Brown also explained he enjoys remodeling and doing projects around the house.
Over Spring Break, he was able to repaint and re-carpet an entire room, Brown shared.
Despite the hard work at TCC and the numerous activities Brown enjoys, he admits the activity he enjoys the most is reading.
“Reading is a big hobby of mine,” he said.
For the past five years, Kate Stewart has been the dean for the division of Technology and Professional Programs, although she never intended to do so.
“My earliest childhood memories are of teaching – I have always wanted to teach,” Stewart said. “I never really considered being a College faculty member; I always thought I’d be an elementary school teacher.”
Stewart grew up in Montgomery, N.Y., near the Catskill Mountains. She attended the State University of New York, where she earned her bachelor’s degree, and FSU where she earned her master’s degree, both in Computer Science.
Stewart came to TCC in1983 teaching and, in 10 years, became the Computer Technology Program chair of the division.
When the former TPP dean moved on to another position, the division did a search for a new dean and couldn’t find one, Stewart stepped up as an interim dean.
“I offered to serve as interim dean in order to help keep things moving forward,” Stewart said.
While working as the interim dean, Stewart also continued to teach classes, but found it difficult to do so.
“I actually have taught several classes while being dean, but it’s hard to find the time to do both!” she said.
Finally, Stewart decided to apply and take the job as the dean.
“I began to feel that perhaps I could do well at the job,” Stewart said. “I was very surprised that being the dean felt kind of ‘natural.’ I never planned on becoming a dean. An opportunity arose to ‘test out the position’ and it seemed to work!”
As the dean, Stewart admits that her work takes up most of her time, but that doesn’t stop her from enjoying herself.
“I like to fish,” Stewart said. “[My husband and I] have a boat in St. Marks.”
Aside from fishing, Stewart takes some time to watch television.
“I must admit that I also like watching TV,” she said. “Especially Lifetime Movie Network!”
Like anybody else, Stewart is also fond of most kinds of music and loves college football, especially Georgia Bulldogs, she said.
Although she enjoys activities that do not have much to do with her job, one of her favorite hobbies is doing what she went to school for originally.
“One of my main interests is technology,” Stewart said. “I enjoy using the computer and keeping up with trends in educational technology – primarily programming.”
Throughout her life, Stewart had learned a few lessons that she likes to share.
“Welcome change and challenge. It’s how you grow as a person,” Stewart said. “You are never too young or too old to learn something. Enjoy the opportunity.
“Relax and keep perspective,” she continued. “And most importantly, always be yourself!”