Tuesday, May 5, 2015

McDowell will miss student interaction as she prepares to leave KCKCC

KANSAS CITY, KAN. ---- Each semester, students will stop Kansas City Kansas Community College Dean Dr. Denise McDowell in the hallway.

Sometimes it would be to say hello, other times it would be for a quick chat, but the most memorable would be those students who stopped to share how she had made a difference in their lives.

“I will miss working with students who need a second, third and sometimes fourth chance at college completion,” she said. “The GPA Recovery process I developed and implemented was aimed at extending a life line to students with grade point averages below 2.0. Limiting the number of credit hours they could enroll in, but not shutting them out of higher education would encourage them to lean forward and not dismantle their dream of earning a certificate or degree. To see those students at graduation was simply joyful.”

McDowell has been the Dean of Enrollment Management/Registrar at KCKCC since 2000. She will retire in June. She said she has been thinking about retiring for some time, so when timing and opportunity merged, she knew the time was right.

“KCKCC is a port of entry for low-income, first generation students and students with disabilities who need access and support to cross the higher education graduation finish line,” she said. “Access without the appropriate support creates a revolving door that does not close the achievement gap.”

McDowell has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo.; a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Mo. and a doctorate in adult education from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. She is also a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Substance Abuse Counselor II in Missouri.

Prior to coming to KCKCC, McDowell worked at MCC-Penn Valley for 11 years as a lead counselor in the Educational Opportunity Center and as director of the TRIO-Student Support Services Program.

“I entered the field of counseling to create pathways toward alternative ways of thinking. I leaned toward higher education administration to be at the table where policies, procedures and practices are crafted that impact under represented populations,” she said about her reasons of entering this career field. “The students who are silenced by inequitable practices need a voice to remind policy makers all lives matter.”

Another group McDowell said she will “deeply miss” are the participants and staff that work with Fringe Benefits of Education (FBOE). A program she helped create, FBOE is designed to position young men 17-24 years of age to compete for a family sustainable wage and life style.

“This program was largely successful with academic achievements, sustainable employment and personal miles stones,’” McDowell said. “I will miss hearing about their life changing moments at the weekly Thursday evening meetings.”

As for her retirement plans, McDowell said she plans to continue “her passion and work in higher education.” In addition to some relocation plans, she has written a couple of articles that will be released in the coming months.

“A popular song writer wrote ‘Everything must change. Nothing stays the same. Everyone will change. Nothing and no one goes unchanged,’” she said. “KCKCC and my experience supports that seasonal way of thinking. I enjoyed the journey as I changed.”