“I was looking for new opportunities ... and another experience in higher education,” Giraud said in a telephone interview Monday. “I was very impressed with Northwest College. It’s certainly the kind of institution I wanted to be associated with. I love the campus, and the community is the right size.”
Giraud will fill the seat vacated nearly two years ago by Sher Hruska. Bob Krenz filled in as interim vice president for academic services during the last school year; this year, Ronda Peer has served as interim vice president.
“The search committee appreciated Dr. Giraud’s quiet and thoughtful presence during the interview process,” said Rob Koelling, NWC humanities division chair and head of the search committee, in a news release. “They were impressed with his insights and approach to dealing with difficult academic issues.”
NWC President Paul Prestwich echoed Koelling’s observation, saying in the release, “We’re pleased to have someone with Dr. Giraud’s experience and expertise join the Northwest College team.”
Giraud holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, sociology, and political science from Regents College of the State University of New York, a master’s in educational psychology and a doctorate in cultural and psychological studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Prior to Oglala, he was an associate professor at Nebraska Methodist College in Omaha, where he was involved in nursing education at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Giraud has a background in statistics, research methods, and assessment, and is a consultant-evaluator for the Higher Learning Commission.
“Those areas are becoming increasingly important in higher education, with increasing emphasis on accountability, data collection and measurement,” he said.
He said the immediate challenge he’ll tackle when he arrives in August is a Higher Learning Commission accreditation focus visit in the spring of 2013. The visit will focus on shared governance, assessment and strategic planning, all issues that are central to the academic mission of the college.
Because he is a peer evaluator, “I have a pretty good idea of what the Higher Learning Commission expects, what they’re looking for in the evaluation process and how to present the information a way that’s most favorable to the institution,” he said.
“My first priority,” Giraud said, “will be to assure our best effort in demonstrating the high quality of Northwest College.”
Giraud said he has experience as a faculty member, “so I can relate to many of the concerns and values of faculty members, and as vice president for academic services, that is the group I will be working with.”
Giraud was selected from a nationwide pool of 55 candidates, four of whom were brought to campus for personal interviews.
Two previous searches failed to produce successful candidates, prompting the NWC Board of Trustees to contract with the Association for Community College Trustees to help with recruiting for the position. The association forwarded candidates’ names and information. NWC officials narrowed the field of candidates down to the final five.
Giraud lives in Nebraska, but works on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. While the circumstances are different than in Powell, his experience in a rural area has prepared him to serve the college well, he said.
“I’m just really looking forward to moving to the community and starting my work at Northwest College,” he said.
He’ll make the move with his wife, Maggie, and their dog, Flash, a Jack Russell terrier.
“I am impressed with every aspect of Northwest College, particularly the staff and faculty I met during the interview process. I look forward to supporting the academic excellence and creative efforts of faculty, and to providing leadership to advance the mission and vision of the college.”