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GCC Welcomes New Chief Academic and Student Affairs Officer

Posted on Thursday September 13th 2012

The first time Sher Hruska set foot on a college campus was the day she registered for college. At the end of high school, Sher debated between cosmetology school or college, not sure what the difference was between the two. No one in Sher’s family had gone to college.

Sher walked onto that college campus because high school teachers had taught Sher and her peers to expect they would go to college. So, Sher and her friends went. That day, Sher had no idea where college would take her. She had no idea her life’s work would become helping people walk through the door to college and turn the fire in their belly into a better life for themselves and their families. Sher didn’t know her path would lead to being the Chief Academic and Student Affairs Officer at Greenfield Community College.

Sher didn’t know that one day she’d work at GCC, but everything she’s done since her first day of college has led her here. As an undergraduate, Sher studied psychology and education at Mankato State College in Minnesota. She then went to the University of Cincinnati to write a master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation on student learning styles and factors that help students learn more in college classrooms. At the University of Massachusetts, Sher served as director of the Center for Instructional Resources and Improvement for four years and for fourteen years as a faculty member in the School of Education. At the University, Sher taught faculty from many community colleges in Massachusetts, focusing on effective teaching and departmental leadership.

Sher’s desire to work in a college with open admissions led her to the position of Associate Academic Dean at Lyndon State College in Vermont. There, her work supported the faculty’s instructional development and included events with Vermont Technical College, Vermont high schools, and business associations on supporting students’ transition into college.

After many years in New England, horses took Sher and her family to Wyoming. On horseback riding vacations in Wyoming, Sher fell in love with the west and later her husband found the same attraction to big sky country. Sher followed that love to spend 11 years as Vice President for Academic Affairs at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming and two years as Vice President for Learning at San Juan College in Farmington, New Mexico. In both two-year colleges, Sher continued her work supporting student success and helping initiate innovations in course delivery that would support that success.

Wanting to return to New England and work in a small community college, Sher walked into her first interview at GCC. She was impressed with the Search Committee’s deep dedication and pride in GCC. Sher left her second interview uplifted and energized by the campus members’ strong love for the College and readiness to build on a strong foundation to enhance further students’ positive outcomes. She walked into her first day working at GCC thrilled to help lead a college with such dedicated staff and faculty.

Reflecting on her new position, Sher said, “I feel very blessed to be at GCC. I see the College as a living set of productive relationships connected by everyone’s desire to help students achieve the goals that led them to GCC and to set and achieve even higher goals. All of us at GCC help our students gain the confidence and courage to raise their aspirations and to cultivate the knowledge and skills to meet those aspirations. Together, we make the lives of our students better while they are here at GCC and when they apply their education beyond the college.”

Welcoming Sher to GCC, President Bob Pura said, “Sher leads with her heart in addition to her intelligence. While Sher has respect for data-informed decisions, she understands the complexity of the human experience and knows that numbers don’t capture everything we need to understand about students, teaching, and learning. Sher is a leader who respects collaborative decision-making and whose values fit well with the values and principles of GCC.”

This fall, Sher joins GCC staff and faculty welcoming students who are walking onto a college campus for the first time. Years ago, Sher didn’t know where her own college experience would lead. Now with over 30 years of leadership experience, she’s working collaboratively with GCC’s staff and faculty as they help GCC’s students succeed on their path.

By Mary McClintock ’82







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