Member Profile: Russi Egan
Member Profile: Russi Egan
Position Title: Vice President of Administrative Services
College: Lake Tahoe Community College (LTCC)
Number of Years in current position: 2
Number of years as an administrator: 6
Who or what inspires you to be a better administrator?
As cliché as this sounds, it is the students and the team of people I get to work with on this campus who inspire me to be a better administrator. It is their desire to serve the students and our community to the best of their ability that humble me and make me want to push harder to be better.
I have the opportunity every day to be able to meet and get to know our students. I have met a returning student who has found his meaning and inspiration to go back to school and is now making a difference in the lives of his fellow students. I have met the most amazing international student who struggled with housing and had to move multiple times in her first year here, but always had a smile and would help anyone who needed it. I met a single mom working to make a better life for her little family by going to school and being there for her daughter. I know a young man struggling to find a place to volunteer so he can get hours for his application for nursing school. These young people have struggles and yet are here every day with a smile and a desire to complete their education.
I get to work with people every day who do rather than just talk. They stay late to help someone get into a class or drop one on the last night at the last minute because the student just got out of class. They are here on weekends to make sure everything is ready for the week ahead or overnight to ensure the campus is ready for classes in the morning.
I get to work with faculty who strive to hear the voice of the students in meetings, come in on Saturdays and Sundays to meet with students who can’t meet at other times, and strive to be the best they can be at all times.
I get to work with the most amazing administrative team who seeks climbed out of the box, stomped on it and figured out inventive ways to make things happen for our students. They have sought grants with faculty to remove the need to buy access codes for math labs, created partnerships to eliminate the cost of bus passes for our students and worked to establish housing opportunities for our students.
All of these examples inspire me daily to be better and better for our students.
What do you find is currently the most challenging part of being an administrator at a California community college, and how are you working to meet that challenge?
I think the most challenging part of being an administrator at a California community college is the speed of change. I think no matter what organization a person works in, change is generally the obstacle most people need to overcome. Our society is changing rapidly and we need to keep up.
I understand the need for change and often like to see how we could do things differently. This is one of the things I truly appreciate about where I work currently. We ask “why”. Why are we doing it this way? Why do we need to change? I am the type of person who changes the layout of my house around frequently, but I take a moment to see what works and what doesn’t.
I like the fact that LTCC figures out what needs to be done and why, then looks at the rules to see how we can make it happen. It is the only way to keep up with the way and the speed of change.
At this point in your career, what are you most proud of?
At this point in my career I am proud of my work at Lake Tahoe College and the initiatives we have worked on to move the needle, like the Promise program, student housing and guided pathways. While I don’t do the heavy lifting in these programs, I know I played small parts in supporting them.
I am proud of my work at Palo Verde College and the things we made happen there during some trying times. I know the college has a strong future and I am happy I was able to be part of the changes that took place.
I am most proud of the students each and every year. The smiles and joy I see make each and every day worth it. I know I don’t teach, I don’t counsel, I don’t see most of them daily, but I do know that I help make a difference in their lives. I am always excited when they come back to visit and we get to hear about the changes in their lives and the excitement they have of their future.
Who is the person who most influenced you professionally and why?
I am not sure I can pick just one person who most influenced me professionally. It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child. Well it takes a system to raise an administrator.
There is Susan Bray who guided me to many people and programs to learn what I needed to learn. There is Sue Rearic who taught me how to be the person to do the job. There is Bonnie Dowd who has always just been there answering my questions and encouraging me to keep going. One can’t forget about Linda Beam who made it her mission to make me speak above a whisper and in front of people too. But…
If I had to only name one person it would just have to be my husband, Eric Egan. He is the Director of IT at Palo Verde College. He always encouraged me, pushed me, hugged me, but most of all he believed in me.
This final question is to get at who connected you with ACCCA, how your membership/engagement in ACCCA helped you develop as an administrator and it can also be just a memory. Essentially this is your ACCCA story...a great memory of a program or event; a person or an "ah ha" moment.
My ACCCA story is filled with great memories, events, people and “ah ha” moments. The vice president of administrative services had just retired and there were financial issues. We had an interim in place that helped determine the hole we were facing. During winter break I received an email that I would be taking over the fiscal department in January. I was certainly shocked because the obstacles seemed insurmountable.
I saw Susan Bray at the budget workshop and we were catching up. I shared that I didn’t feel prepared to do all of the things that needed to be done. (OK, really I was just so lost.) She helped the mentor program find a mentor and helped me as much as she could. She also recommended Admin 101. Both of these programs changed my life in a multitude of ways. My mentor taught me to be the person who could do the job and Admin 101 helped me gain a better perspective of the college as a whole and how my job fit into the big picture.
The absolute most important thing that impacted my future was the networking. I could likely spend hours listing all of the people that have made an impact on my career. I have learned so very much from my colleagues and expect to learn so much more. Professional development is ongoing and everywhere.