The new president of Jamestown Community College is planning to take a hands-on approach in the education of the college's students.
Despite an extensive and diverse professional history within the educational realm, Cory Duckworth maintains that the driving force behind his career as an educator has been the students.
"The whole reason I wanted to stay with higher education in the first place is that I believe in the life-transforming power that higher education can have on the lives of students," Duckworth said. "I love the fact that I can come to work every day and have the opportunity to work on projects and programs that help people to have a better life. I would say working closely with students is the thing that has drawn me (to education)."
Cory L. Duckworth, Jamestown Community College’s new president, was introduced to faculty and staff at the JCC North County Center in Dunkirk recently. Dr. Duckworth toured the center’s facilities and was given an overview of the credit and non-credit program opportunities provided to area residents.
As he settles into his new leadership role with JCC, which he assumed on Aug. 15, Duckworth said he anticipates a transition phase consisting largely of his first academic year on the job. However, while he expects to be partly reliant upon the examples and achievements of his predecessors, he has established six personal goals - which he had originally presented during his first meeting with the board of trustees last week.
"I've always felt like it's important to adopt before you adapt, but I do have these six things that I'm focusing on," he said. "My first goal is to make sure that we run the campus in a sound and meaningful way, so the great educational programs that have been assembled here and are being produced for the students will continue without any interruption. Secondly, (I'll be) getting acquainted, learning the processes and understanding the personnel and the people here on campus so that I can be in a position to make the right kinds of decisions down the road. (Third) it's very critical to me that I be connected with the community. A community college is, first and foremost, an instrumentality of the communities that are served."
He continued: "Then, shoring up enrollments will be a focus for me. And making sure that we're doing all that we can to invite individuals to attend their college years here, so that they can have the experience of gaining an education that will open doors to a better future for them. (Fifthly), any president needs to understand the policies that he or she would be operating under, and so (I'll be) coming to an understanding of not only what the policies are, but why they are. And finally, my wife and I are eager to play a role and get invested in the community."
Because he is so new to the position, Duckworth said he feels it would be presumptuous to have a grand and detailed vision for the college before he comes to know its essence.
However, one thing he does know: "Whatever that vision is, it will be focused around helping students achieve success in their educational pursuits."
Beginning his educational career as a teacher of political science at what is now Southern Utah University, Duckworth said he is always looking for an opportunity to be in the classroom.
"It's a little more difficult (to teach) when you're the president, but I love to teach," he said. "I've tried to teach all throughout my career and, hopefully, I'll have an occasion to do that. So, I would look for an opportunity down the road somewhere to be back in the classroom occasionally and connect with the students that way."
Duckworth also cited his time as vice president of student affairs at Utah Valley University, a position in which he served for 10 years, as being influential in the development of his hands-on approach to education. According to Duckworth, because the position of college president was the next logical choice in his career's progression, some of the skills he acquired through this position also influenced his decision to apply to JCC when the position became available.
"My wife and I were studying those opportunities across the country and making decisions about where we thought our background would be able to make a strong contribution to the things that were going on. And because I'd had a strong background in marketing, enrollment management, fundraising and just higher education in general, a community college made sense to me," he said. "So, it just seemed to me like life tends to prepare you for the things that you're invited to do."
The extent of his professional background would indicate that Duckworth is no stranger to the administrative aspect of higher education.
In addition to his vice presidential position at Utah Valley University, he served as vice president for university advancement and marketing at Ferris State University, associate vice president for institutional advancement at Utah Valley State College, executive director of the St. Cloud University Foundation, executive assistant to the president for planning and development at Minot State University and assistant director of development, instructor of political science and pre-law advisor at Southern Utah University.
A member of the Utah Bar Association, Duckworth has also earned a juris doctorate at the University of Utah College of Law. He earned a master's degree in political science at the University of Utah and a bachelor's degree in political science and psychology at Utah State University.