Vivian Jeffcoat, Dean of Trades, Industry and Professional Studies, came to education as a second career. For years she worked in sales for an industrial insurance company. “That’s where I got my management and leadership skills,” says Jeffcoat. She worked her way up from a file clerk up to regional vice president.
While she was working at the insurance company, she started realizing that her favorite part of the job was leading training, both internal and external, which led her to consider getting into education.
When she moved to Nebraska for her husband’s job, it was the perfect opportunity for Jeffcoat to go back to school and shift gears. So she attended the University of Nebraska to get a master’s degree in education. As she finished her degree, she began teaching at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, as well as at the local community college, Southeast Community College. “I got my feet wet in teaching,” says Jeffcoat, “and I loved every minute of it.”
When she moved back to Colorado, she started at College of America and Westwood College. During this time, she was able to learn more about the accreditation process and started to transition into administrative roles. “As much as I love teaching, I feel like I’m a better administrator, coach and trainer,” she explains. She also realized how much she liked working with students for whom traditional college and school experiences were not the right fit.
After Westwood College closed, Jeffcoat came to Emily Griffith to take on the role of Associate Dean of Trades, Industry and Professional Studies. “I love the trades and I love the student population; I’m so happy to be at Emily Griffith,” says Jeffcoat.
Now as Dean of the College of Trades, Industry and Professional Studies, Jeffcoat makes sure every program runs smoothly, “And that we deliver good instruction and we see the success of our students,” she says. “That to me is the key and I think we do a good job of it.”
She attributes that success to working closely with instructors to help them become better teachers in the classroom and to tracking students in order to follow up with those that might be falling behind.
Being a female leader in a male-driven college can be a challenge. “I’ve been doing it my whole career, but it’s always a challenge to make sure my voice is heard,” says Jeffcoat. Because of that, she’s always thinking about ways to bring women into the skilled trades and break stereotypes. “It takes cultivating, and that’s hard,” she says. “You’ve got to start early and demonstrate what it looks like on a consistent basis.” To do that, she’s planning to host more events in the future highlighting women in the skilled trades.
One of the things that Jeffcoat sees for the future of Career and Technical Education is more focus on apprenticeships, including in industries beyond the skilled trades. “We have so many opportunities to grow our current programs and to create new partnerships,” says Jeffcoat.