NVC President Retires
Alamo Colleges Northwest Vista President Announces Retirement and Leaves a Legacy of Excellence
Jacqueline “Jackie” Claunch, the president of Alamo Colleges Northwest Vista College, announced her plans for retirement today at a college faculty and staff meeting. The retirement will be effective August 2014. Known for her commitment to quality, Dr. Jackie Claunch has championed improving education both in and outside the classroom. She leaves a legacy of academic excellence, quality service and environmental conservation that grew the college from 246 students in 1998 to an award-winning, nationally recognized institution serving over 16,354 students in fall 2013.
“What a joy it has been to support students in their pursuit of learning and, in the process, to learn and grow myself,” said Claunch. “Little did I know when I found my way to a community college position in 1975 that I would discover my passion and spend the next 39 years in a community college setting.”
Dr. Jackie Claunch, who holds a BA in mathematics from Trinity University, began her career as a Systems Engineer for IBM. She used her skills and industry knowledge to focus on making decisions rooted in data and market research. She embarked on a career in higher education at Richland College 39 years ago, fulfilling various senior leadership roles before moving to San Antonio in 1998 to establish Northwest Vista College, which was then the newest college within Alamo Colleges.
She immediately initiated Northwest Vista College’s membership and active participation in the Continuous Quality Improvement Network, an organization committed to quality service in higher education. Within three years time, Northwest Vista College earned accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In 2007, the college was recognized with the Texas Award for Performance Excellence from the Quality Texas Foundation.
"During Jackie's tenure as president, Northwest Vista College has established itself as a leader in the pursuit of excellence," said Alamo Colleges Chancellor Dr. Bruce Leslie. "She has set an outstanding example for both the Northwest Vista College family and the Alamo Colleges family in her commitment to creating opportunities for success for students and the community," he added.
In 2012, the college was recognized at the national level for best practice in leadership and customer focus by the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, managed by the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology. Dr. Jackie Claunch herself has earned several individual awards, including the 2012 Continuous Quality Improvement Network Legacy Award.
Dr. Claunch, who insists on being called “Jackie,” believes in creating opportunities for success. She is credited in creating a collaborative, student-centered culture where diverse perspectives are valued.
“I have always believed that the community college is the ultimate manifestation of democracy, creating opportunities for those who might not otherwise have been able to pursue higher education.”
Under Dr. Claunch’s leadership, the college has become a national leader in developmental education and earned Advanced Level Certification for the Advocacy Center by the National Association for Developmental Education. The center was named “exemplary” by the National Council of Teachers of English. Other awards include a Student Retention Initiative Award by the MetLife Foundation.
Beyond the classroom and student support services, Dr. Claunch has strived to create an open, creative, inclusive and most of all – joyful – environment committed to sustainability. She does not shy away from being labeled a “tree hugger.” Some employees remember how Dr. Claunch worked tirelessly with developers to limit the number of trees that would have to be cut down as the campus grew to meet student needs. Her efforts paid off and the college preserved over 80 percent of the native trees and vegetation on its site. In 2002, Northwest Vista College received the Master Naturalist Award for Preservation from the Alamo Area Chapter of the Master Naturalists.
Environmental preservation continued to be a focus during a major bond construction project of $106 million, which added six new buildings to the main campus located on 137 acres at 3535 N. Ellison Drive in Westover Hills.
As she retires and pursues her love of dance, gardening, music and outdoors, Dr. Claunch reflects on the past 16 years:
“During those years I have seen good times and hard times, but through it all there has never been a day when I did not find joy in walking onto the campus. I will miss that morning walk, and I will miss the people I have come to know and love. As I prepare to depart, I trust that I leave this college and the students who pass through on their journeys in the hands of a community dedicated to student success. “
Dr. Jackie Claunch holds a B.A. in Mathematics from Trinity University, an M.A. in Mathematics and Computer Science from Texas A&I University, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University of North Texas.
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