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New instructional officer begins at FRC

Mona Hill
Staff Writer
8/3/2011

Dr. Karen Pierson, Feather River College’s new chief Student Services officer, looks too young to be retired, but she was — until she stepped into her new job at the college Monday, July 25.

In 2010, Pierson took advantage of an early retirement package from North Iowa Area Community College, in Mason City, Iowa, where she served as vice president of Student Development and Success.

Trustees approved president Ron Taylor’s request to hire Pierson, who takes over from the interim dean of Student Services, Lisa Kelly.

In Iowa, Pierson had responsibility for all areas of student life, including athletics. Athletics are not part of her responsibilities at FRC, though many other duties are the same.

In addition to oversight of admissions and records, financial aid, student housing and the like, Pierson will also be responsible for community education, marketing and the child development center — new roles for her.

Pierson has expertise in all areas of student services. Even though California has different requirements and systems, she is well versed in the processes and practices for the many areas encompassed by student services.

Pierson takes a broad view of the many interrelated systems and departments that provide for students’ needs, on- or off-campus. She said students expect quality customer service, especially at a small college like FRC, where students expect administrators to know them as individuals.

In her first week on the job, Pierson is impressed by how hard everyone is working — with so few people and resources — to provide quality education.

She said every place she considered in California, Colorado and Florida faces the same budget cuts, that it’s not unique. At FRC, everyone is doing more with less and rethinking processes for greater efficiency.

Pierson said while her role here is more hands-on than in the past, staff has been willing to share issues. She hopes to identify compromises and strategies to incorporate greater flexibility and new ideas.

Despite differences between Iowa and California — Iowa community colleges have more autonomy and less bureaucratic hierarchy — it’s not so very different. According to Pierson, California is every bit as welcoming and diverse as Iowa.

Pierson and husband Dwight will live in Quincy. The couple has two daughters, one in Denver, Colo., who is expecting twins in December and one in San Francisco.

Pierson said, “I like the quiet atmosphere; the outside environment is beautiful and so different from Iowa. I can’t quit looking at it.”

“I feel comfortable in Quincy, in the stores. I love being able to meet 10 people I know in the store. I enjoy the community feeling.”

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