President recaps first year, talks plans for future

By JW McNay/campus editor

As Zarina Blankenbaker’s first year as NW Campus president comes to a close this semester, she described it as “fabulous” and said she intends to “look forward constantly” to bring the campus into the future.

“I joined the college at a very exciting time when we were developing our strategic plan,” she said.

Blankenbaker joined NW’s administration last June and spent her first year assessing the campus.

“I focused my first year in making sure that I was being transparent in everything that I did,” Blankenbaker said, adding that she sends out a weekly blog and makes a point to meet every new NW employee.

She also identified two opportunities for improvement through a faculty-and-staff survey, which are communication and cross-campus collaboration.

Moving forward, her primary focus is to support and strengthen the campus’ current programs, she said, by looking at enrollment trends, retention and labor market outcomes.

In addition, Blankenbaker said NW is looking to add to its current programs and is looking into incorporating new fields in the campus’ police academy, aviation, fire service training and criminal justice programs. For example, a curriculum is being designed for an addition to the aviation program called non-destructive testing, non-destructive inspection or NDTNDI.

“We’re not interested in every campus having every program,” she said. “What we’re interested in is collaborating among the campuses to create synergy in our programming.”

NW works with SE and Arlington ISD to offer fire service training at the Dan Dipert Career and Technical Center in Arlington, Blankenbaker said.

“We’re pooling programs from various campuses and offering them in the Arlington community,” she said, adding that she and other campus presidents have met with Crowley ISD to discuss ways to offer students dual-credit programming.

Physical changes are also a future possibility for the campus as several construction projects are in the works, including a new horticulture greenhouse, a fire service training storage facility and a redesign of the Center of Excellence for Aviation, Transportation and Logistics’ third floor, Blankenbaker said.

“It’s [first year] much better than I expected,” Blankenbaker said. “I cannot be more thrilled and excited about what my second year will bring for me.”