Until recently, Wendy Weiner had never lived in Las Vegas and yet the East Coast native says she finally found her home in Southern Nevada. Weiner became the dean of the College of Southern Nevada’s School of Arts and Letters on July 1.
“Throughout my professional career I have taught English and I’m coming to CSN from a school where I was dean of arts and sciences,” she explained. “I admit I’m no scientist and there were times science professors didn’t understand me, which made sense because I didn’t always understand them. Now I’m home because I am in my zone in the School of Arts and Letters. I’m thrilled to be here.”
Weiner and her husband had actually moved to Las Vegas before she took the position with the college.
“We had visited the Southwest on many occasions and made a conscious decision to move specifically to Las Vegas,” she said. “We bought a home and while preparing for the move, I saw the position advertised for dean of the School for Arts and Letters and that was that.”
Within that school are the following departments: English, the largest department; communication, which has journalism and public speaking; fine arts with theater, dance, music and art; and international languages, which has 16 languages including English as a second language and American sign language. Although Weiner is still adjusting to palm trees and sunshine, she is finding a certain similarity that is common within many community colleges.
“I have found that no matter where I taught, those within a community college truly consider themselves a family and this includes students and faculty,” she said. “There is a real sense of embracing and supporting the mission of a community college and I’m finding that here. I see a very caring environment.”
Weiner received her Bachelor of Arts in journalism and advertising from Pennsylvania State University. She attained her master’s degree and Ph.D. in education from George Mason University. Prior to arriving at the College of Southern Nevada, Weiner was a professor of education and director of the Teacher Preparation Program at Chatham University in Pittsburgh.
“There are so many opportunities at CSN,” Weiner said. “I say that because I began my career at Northern Virginia Community College, one of the largest community colleges in the country. Then I went to John Tyler Community College in Richmond and that is one of the smallest in the country. And I’ve been at several four-year schools where I found that the focus on students was not as sharp as it was at community colleges. CSN is laid out well organizationally and, when I was interviewed, I saw that everyone was involved. People were doing the right kinds of things for the right reason and I knew I wanted to be a part of it since I’ve seen good and bad and CSN is very good.”
There are many positives Weiner finds in a community college setting ranging from the recent high school graduate who is just beginning his or her advanced education, to those who are returning to school to continue their education or are simply retooling their careers.
“These are different times,” she explained. “Some kids, who thought they might be going out of state to school, are staying home because of financial issues. Mothers, who have raised families, are returning to school for their personal satisfaction or because they have to reenter the workforce. And then you have others who have lost their jobs and want to learn new skills to succeed in the future. But that’s our mission. We provide a track for students who are planning to transfer to another university, and there’s a track for those who want technical training for a specific career.”
According to Weiner, students select CSN because they know they can find a quality education that features small class size, professor availability and safety nets that provide skills for students so they can thrive and not just survive.
Among the challenges Weiner sees as she becomes familiar with the campus will be working on assessing how “we can tweak current programs and improve them. We have great programs so let’s make sure we’re delivering them and let’s see what we can do even better.”