Dr. Kristie Fisher eager to connect with students
A new chapter has opened at Kirkwood Community College as the college transitions to a new president. As of Oct. 30, Dr. Kristie Fisher is now the president of Kirkwood.
“I’ve always wanted this job,” Fisher said. “I was a student here and graduated in 1990 and came back to work here right after I finished my bachelor’s degree. After doing that for a number of years, I decided I wanted to be a community college president. So, I really kind of charted my career to give myself the experience to have a chance at this job.”
“Wonderful,” is how Fisher described the feeling of leading the college she once attended. “You know, I think it would’ve been more of an adjustment if I hadn’t been a community college president for the last four years. So, I’ve already learned how to be a community college president and now just to come back here, it just feels really comfortable and feels like home,” said Fisher.
Fisher was previously president of Iowa Valley Community College. “The biggest change [in my role] is Kirkwood is much bigger. I’ll be less involved in some of the daily things that maybe I had to manage at Iowa Valley because there’s such a talented leadership team here. That level of leadership really happens at the vice presidency. I think it means I’m going to have more time to be out at community things and working with community partners and doing things with students,” she said.
Fisher also emphasized her love for the community at Kirkwood. “I think it’s the people. Whether it was when I was a student or when I worked here, there’s always been really good people here at Kirkwood. People care, they are supportive of each other and the communities are supportive of the college, which is really nice as well,” she said.
“I’d say I’m really excited about getting out there and doing some fundraising to bring additional resources into the college so that we can fund interesting projects and student scholarships,” Fisher added.
The new president also took time to share her favorite parts of the educational process, highlighting her joy when it comes to witnessing the success of students.
“I think the student stories and watching people be successful and kind of who they are and what they want to do through the educational process,” said Fisher. “I know that was important to me as a first-generation college student, so I always loved hearing from students and their families, whether it’s a traditional student who came straight from high school or if it’s a returning adult or somewhere in between that, I think that’s the best thing.”
Fisher said she takes great pride in being a first-generation college student. “I think it’s very much a point of pride for me that because of a great place like Kirkwood, that first-generation college student was a great experience for me.”
“When I first came to college, I didn’t even know to do a college visit…I think when I first came to college, I was probably embarrassed by that and because I didn’t know and I didn’t have [those resources], who do you ask those questions to,” said Fisher. “And it turns out there would’ve been a ton of people here I could have asked those questions to, but yeah, I felt like I should know those things.”
The new college president said she does expect some challenges in her first few years. “I think money is always a challenge. Kirkwood is obviously very well-resourced but it’s expensive to educate. Every student is expensive, so that’s always part of the challenge is making sure you have the right mix of money coming in and you’re spending the money the most effectively to make sure you’re having the biggest impact,” said Fisher.
She said another challenge includes longer term effects from the pandemic. “I think for the next decade we’re going to see students who had bits of learning loss because of Covid. Because you don’t stay home for a year and try to learn online and not have learning loss. Right now, we’re seeing students who maybe had a learning loss in high school, but five and ten years from now we’re going to see students who had a learning loss in elementary school or middle school, so I think that’s going to be a challenge for us over the next decade,” said Fisher.
Fisher also strongly emphasized her desire to connect with the student body. “I would want [students] to know that if they see me, stop me, introduce themselves, tell me about what they’re studying because I came up through student services, so students are my favorite part of the work here.”
She added, “So, I always want to get a chance to interact with students and hear what you guys are doing and what’s working for you and what’s not.”
Fisher went on to say, “I’d like to do some student lunches because I think that’s always a nice way to connect with students. And then I try to get to activities. I was at the haunted house the other night […] and the musical on Thursday. I’m usually very active in going to those different types of events so I get the chance to really celebrate the great work that students are doing.”
Fisher said she would love to hear from students on what she can do to better connect with them. If students have any ideas or suggestions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gibson is an aspiring journalist with a variety of roles under his belt including his role as News Editor for the Communique. Once he earns his associate degree from Kirkwood, he plans on transferring to a four-year university to major in Mass Communications and Journalism. Once earning his bachelor’s degree, he intends to follow his dream of becoming a sportswriter.