Content edited and saved!

Michael Conn Named OCC Dean of Instruction

MIchael Conn PhotoMichael Conn is excited about the opportunities and challenges facing him as Olney Central College’s new Dean of Instruction.

“I taught for 18 years and enjoyed it, but I was at a point where I wanted to do something different in the field of education,” Conn said of his decision to seek the post previously held by Dr. Jeffery Cutchin. “I want to use my experience and education to make a positive impact here at OCC.”

Conn has served as an art instructor at OCC for nine years. He has been the Student Senate advisor since 2009, chaired the college council from 2011-2013 and served on several hiring committees. Before joining OCC, he taught in Michigan’s Iron Mountain and Grand Haven public schools.

A resident of Olney, Conn is in the process of completing his Ph.D. in art education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He earned a master’s degree in art and humanities from New York University and a bachelor’s degree in education from Grand Valley State University with certification in elementary education and art education.

Conn assumed his new duties on June 26 and says he already has a feel for the new position that will enable him to go from addressing the needs of a single department to enhancing educational opportunities for students college-wide.

“I’m really enjoying the work,” he said. “We have a great administrative team with President Rodney Ranes, Assistant Dean of Student Services Andi Pampe and Administrative Assistants Kathy Slichenmyer and Alyssa Maglone. Decisions here are made not as a single person but as a whole team. There is a lot of good, positive energy and I appreciate that.”

With the fall semester quickly approaching, Conn is focusing his immediate efforts on increasing enrollment among both transfer and technical students. In the coming months, he will be working with OCC marketing, retention and faculty to increase the number of students the college is assisting.

Although OCC isn’t feeling the impact as deeply as many Illinois colleges and universities, the state budget crisis has saddled Conn and fellow administrators with the task of operating the college with fewer dollars.

“We have to use the resources we have and be as flexible and as positive as we can,” Conn said. “I will work closely with the faculty to facilitate their needs. We want to ensure they have the equipment and resources they need to teach.”

In addition, Conn plans to institute mentoring opportunities with faculty. He also wants to remain accessible interacting with the OCC students, faculty and staff, who will frequently see him walking the halls.

“I want to try to make everybody happy, but I know that isn’t possible,” Conn said. “We have to do everything the right way. If there is a problem, we have to do what is right and ethical. We have to look at what will be in the best interest and be most positive for the students and the institution, even if that solution is the more difficult one.”                                                                                                                  

Find a problem? Send the issue to us. Thank you!