After serving less than a year in an interim role, Barb Waak has been named Associate Dean of the Yavapai College Verde Valley Campus and Sedona Center.
Waak is a 24-year veteran of teaching, the majority of it at Yavapai College Verde Valley Campus. She graduated from Yavapai College with an associate degree in 1978 before moving on to bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English at Northern Arizona University and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration at Capella University.
Waak has made the Verde Valley her home for over two decades. From 2009 to 2010, Waak served as president of the Yavapai College Faculty Association, representing the interests of approximately 113 faculty members, helping to increase their potential to teach.
As associate dean, Waak’s responsibilities include overseeing academics, developing curriculum, scheduling classes, hiring faculty, ensuring professional development opportunities for faculty and participating in dean meetings, among others.
“I really like helping students and faculty,” Waak said. “Having been a faculty member for 24 years in higher education, I feel I understand the needs of both teachers and learners .... I am really excited about being a voice for the Verde campus. We have the world’s best faculty. Just to work with them and potentially help them in any way I can — that’s why I got this job.”
Waak said she still finds herself desiring more student contact but embraces the evolution of her role in education.
“I taught ENG 101 and 102 200 times. While I loved it, it’s very refreshing to be using my Ph.D., carrying those teaching talents over into administration,” Waak said. “People always ask if I miss teaching. I say, ‘No, but I miss my students.’”
In contrast to Waak, Executive Dean of the Verde Valley Campus and Sedona Center James Perey — Waak’s supervisor — oversees major decisions on both sides of the house: Student development and academics.
Regardless, Waak said there is a large intersection between her responsibilities in academics and Yavapai College Associate Vice President and Dean of Student Development Tania Sheldahl’s responsibilities.
“There is significant crossover, particularly with scheduling,” Waak said. In addition to academics, Waak oversees several certificate and degree programs: The film and media arts program, the Sedona Center’s hospitality management and culinary programs and the Southwest Wine Center’s viticulture and oenology programs.
“I get so many affirmations from the community — how happy they are to have a member of the Verde Valley community in administration,” Waak said, adding that her role administering the three new certificate programs at the Sedona Center have allowed her to see how a premier destination certificate program may take shape.
“I am really looking forward to building the hospitality and culinary programs,” Waak said. “Sedona is the Mecca. We have incredible faculty involved.”
During Waak’s interview with Larson Newspapers, a sales and marketing recruiter from a major resort corporation called seeking employees trained in hospitality.
“Getting partners is key,” Waak said, outlining how local businesses not only provide potential students for the Sedona Center’s hospitality management and culinary programs but may play host to students during the practicum portions of their training, gaining real-time, practical experience in local restaurants, hotels and other tourism-centered businesses.
The culinary program is full, but Waak helped expand the offerings to include CUL 104: Baking and Pastries, Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Although it’s a credited class, it is being marketed specifically to people who want to take a course for the fun of cooking.
“Beyond the certificates, we want people to take classes for personal interest,” Waak said. “The reason for the length of the class is because of the lengthy process. It takes a long time to bake a cake.”
Yavapai College hosted a culinary and hospitality program preview day at the Sedona Center Wednesday, July 26. The event featured information on the facility’s dedicated programs and tours of the newly constructed kitchens and renovated classrooms. The center is at 4215 Arts Village Drive in Sedona.
For more information or to register for courses, visit yc.edu or call 634-7501.