Editor’s Note: This is a regular Reflections article series, and this issue features longtime Siena Heights faculty member and Dean of the College for Professional Studies Deb Carter, who is retiring in September 2015 after more than 33 years at SHU. Reflections recently sat down with Deb to reflect on her time at Siena Heights.
How did you get your start at Siena Heights?
“Well, it’s an interesting story. I was a teacher of hearing-impaired children in Berrien County, and I had young children (at home). I was working part-time because of my little kids, and administratively they decided to only go with full-time people. I had enough seniority that I could bump somebody, and I just didn’t feel that I could that. So I resigned from my position not knowing where I was going to go or what was going to happen next. This was May of 1982. In the summertime, a friend of mine called me and said she saw a very small ad in our local newspaper … and it was advertising Siena Heights College needs a part-time person to oversee a new degree program for adult students. I hate to admit this because I’ve spent 33 years of my life here now, but I had never heard of Siena Heights College. I had no college experience. No higher ed experience. All my experience was K through 12 teaching hearing impaired kids. … My friend talked me into calling the number, and I got David James, who was the director of Admissions at the time, and I said I was interested in looking at this. (He said) ‘Can you send your resume?’ … So I mailed it. And then a couple of weeks went by, and I got a call, and David said, ‘Our dean is coming out to your area, and he is going to be interviewing candidates.’ … So I met Norm Bukwaz, who was the dean of Admissions and off-campus programs, and we had a conversation. And my curiosity was, ‘what on earth could you see in my background?’ I don’t know that I would have looked at me, because I didn’t have higher ed experience. … (But) I was called and offered the job, and it fit my criteria because I had little kids and (I) worked part-time. And I was hired at, believe it or not, 10 hours a week, roughly two evenings a week. … To this day, I’m grateful for that strange little happenstance … that was I was able to connect with a place that I love dearly.”