Grayson College’s South Campus, in Van Alstyne, welcomed its new dean, Brad Bankhead, recently, and hosted an open house so that others in the community could meet him as well.
Bankhead follows Dr. Kim Williams, who led Grayson College for several years, and who moved upward in the college system’s administration.
One of the first things Bankhead said at the reception was that “Kim left it (the campus) in good shape. One of the great things about following such an administrator is that she has a well-organized team with the most important of assets — their spirit. Regardless of the role or title anyone here has, all of them hocus on ‘How do we make each day better for students.’ There is a great deal of warmth here, and I am glad I have found that.”
Bankhead, who grew up in Paris, Texas, is a graduate of Paris Junior College, East Texas State, and of Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, where he earned his Master’s Degree, finishing in 1979. He has taught at other universities, including New Mexico State.
“I am reminded of a student who came up to me at New Mexico State,” Bankhead said, “and he said ‘We have been trying to get some of our friends to take one of your classes. It’s the most peaceful place on this campus.’ I realized then that students need a sense of sanctuary, a place where they belong, safe and connected with one another. That’s the atmosphere where learning takes place, and that is the atmosphere on this campus. It’s a peaceful place to learn.
This South Campus of Grayson College offers duel credits for high school students in several courses, along with several technology courses. “Right now, our licensed vocational nursing program is at capacity,” Bankhead explained when asked about the various programs the college provides. “The Medical Lab Technology program has room to grow, including its phlebotomy certification. We feel we need to expand more options in our welding courses. That’s available for both high school students as well as adults who want to learn that skill.”
Bankhead added, “We are right now interviewing for a full-time electrical technologies instructor and hope to have that in place for next semester. Anything that we offer— and we look to see if it’s a good match for the local school districts — can be offered as concurrent credits.” He’s been talking with superintendents of some of the school districts about encouraging their students to explore more technical options, and plans to visit with many others in the area around Van Alstyne.
“We (the working community) desperately need an educated work force. These certification programs offer someone the chance to get a skill set they can use, whether it’s while they are continuing their education, or whether it is for a life skill,” he said.
GC President Dr. Jeremy McMillen said, at the South Campus open house, “We couldn’t happier to have Brad here. He brings a lot to the table. Kim did a phenomenal job, we very
Bankhead said, “People have been very welcoming. I could not have conceived of a better job or a better location. I feel really blessed to be here.
“This is not just the school, but the community has been warm as well. I really enjoy this community. It takes me back to the sense of community (Paris) that I grew up in.” He said, too, that being so close to Paris makes it much easier to get lots of visits in with his mom, who still lives in Paris.
“I want to always be in tune to suggestions from our community about how to make seamless transitions into college — and that starts early in life. I hope people will be very comfortable about approaching me with ideas about how to create successful strategies, creating new programs. People are welcome to call me, to come by the office, to contact me with their ideas about how we can better serve the communities around us. It’s not just a campus for our students. It is for the community. We look for opportunities for our community to be on this campus and we love hosting community members. It is their college,” the new dean said.