Most students who come to Pierce College leave after about two years. Greg Brazell, new dean for business and social science, has been here for more than 20 years.
“I always knew I was a teacher,” he said. “I graduated from Pierce College in the mid-’80s. I’ve never left.”
After Brazell earned his associates degree from what was then Fort Steilacoom Community College (now Pierce College Fort Steilacoom), Brazell spent more than a decade working in the Early Childhood Education programs and stayed tied to the ECE program at Pierce College. In 1996 he started working at Pierce College as an adjunct faculty member while also working as a K-12 teacher. He became full time faculty in 2000 and eventually became a faculty director of education programs, and became a dean this year.
In his new position, Brazell oversees staff and maintains offices at both campuses. The deans each supervise a number of faculty working in a particular academic area, providing them with resources and addressing issues that affect student success.
Along with hiring and budgeting, the deans help coordinate class scheduling, address instructor concerns and suggestions, and mediate students’ issues with faculty or other concerns. Brazell supervises than 20 full-time and more than 40 part-time faculty members.
He sees his role as a facilitator of communication.
“I want people talking,” he said. “We need to talk.”
“It’s always my goal that people feel they’re being heard, that they’re feeling valued, that their input is being listened to, and that we can keep working toward positive goals. That’s my job.”
Like all the new district deans, Brazell’s position was just created this year. Not all colleges would group business and social science in the same department, but Brazell thinks they make a natural pair.
“What it boils down to…it’s about people. It’s about human beings,” he said. “…the heart of business is people working with people, and then of course in the social sciences, that’s what we’re all about.”
Brazell believes the new dean structure is a positive step in furthering the college’s ultimate goal of serving student’s academic success. The new structure allows for easier communication of faculty needs and concerns across the district, and the unified approach makes it easier to spot weaknesses and inconsistencies where the student experience can be improved. Along with reporting to the college’s vice presidents of learning and student success the deans will meet often and collaborate to solve issues and seek ways to improve the college.
“I want to be a resource for students. My job is to be a resource for faculty, too. How can we develop professionally to meet student needs and improve our skills in teaching?,” he said. “…the biggest responsibility in my eyes is making sure that we’re fulfilling our mission as a college and making sure that we’re meeting our five institutional outcomes.”
The new positions carry a great deal of responsibility with corresponding workload.
“It’s a big position,” he said. “It’s a lot of work, a lot of responsibility. But I think it’s very doable, and I think it’s configured the way it needs to be configured.”
Brazell’s commitment to the core mission of the college is deep-seated. He credits his own success to the degree he earned at Fort Steilacoom while raising his children and working two jobs. His family moved to the Puget Sound from Michigan in the ‘70s, when the closing of iron-ore mines left his parents without jobs. He and his two siblings were the first in his family to earn a college degree.
Brazell cites his time at Pierce as having the biggest positive impact on his future in his life, and he sees his career as a way to pay back the community and the college that allowed him to achieve his own goals. He describes himself as a ‘homer’ for Pierce College, always ready to cheer the home team.
“I believe in Pierce College,” he said. “I always have, and I always will.”
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