May is an exciting time for many students as they head towards graduation and prepare for the next steps in their lives. But this year it’s not just the graduating class of 2022 that will be leaving behind the walls of FRCC and starting a new chapter. President Andy Dorsey, who has been a staff member at FRCC for 29 years is retiring this year. As he heads towards his last few weeks of holding the title of president at the school, I was lucky enough to talk with him and reflect on his time here at Front Range.
When asked what led Dorsey to become president, he discussed how it was a bit of an accident, explaining that he took over a part-time teaching position as a psychology professor for a friend last minute and later found himself applying to become full-time faculty. He held many other titles and said that
“when (the presidency) came open, I felt like there were things that the college could do that it wasn’t doing and that maybe I could help get us there.”
After asking Dorsey what some of his proudest accomplishments had been during his time as president, he shared that there were many but a few stuck out in his mind. The first is that he worked to start the Gateway to College program on the Westminster campus. This program helps struggling high school students complete their high school education while also attending college courses. Dorsey cited that the only reason the program was able to succeed was because of the “fantastic staff” at Front Range.
He also talked about how in the last twenty years Front Range had worked very hard to transform the physical appearance of the campus, working to make it more inviting and professional than it had been in the past. Another accomplishment was the improvement of student advising, making it so that each student has someone to connect with and help them during their time at FRCC. The last thing that Dorsey talked about was the many faculty development programs that have been put to use during his time at FRCC and the engagement in the educator’s use of those programs.
It is nice to hear all the accomplishments and impacts that Dorsey has had on the school, but what about how the school and the students have impacted him? When asked this Dorsey discussed how there have been many people that have impacted him during his time at FRCC, but there were some memorable experiences that he had with students while teaching a Psychology class. He talked about how these students had been a bit frustrating for him as a teacher due to a lack of interest or involvement in the course, but then he learned things about what was going on in their lives that were causing the behaviors.
“It reminded me not to assume anything about students,” Dorsey stated, “but learn more about where they had been and what was motivating them. It showed me the importance of being compassionate.”
When asked what title had been his favorite during his time at FRCC, Dorsey said that it was a tie between being a teacher or being president, though he enjoyed all the other positions too. He talked about how being a teacher allowed him to have direct contact with students and he enjoyed the challenges that came with developing his teaching skills. As president though, he was proud that he got to represent FRCC and said that he, “enjoys the challenges and opportunities that make a difference” that the position allows.
So, what does he hope to see from the person that fills his position? Dorsey discussed that FRCC is very close to being federally designated as a Hispanic serving institution, and he hopes that they are able to achieve that designation, as well as improve the outreach to the Latinx community. He also hopes to see further improvements made to student support services, especially as we return from the pandemic.
I had asked a few questions about how Covid affected his time as president and Dorsey did say that it had been extremely challenging. When I inquired what his next steps are after he steps down one of the final things that he said was that he was, “looking forward to having time to step back and think about the next chapter”. He also added with a chuckle that he was looking forward to sleeping a little bit more, saying that the pandemic had made him lose a bit of sleep. Other than that, he is looking forward to spending time with family, traveling a bit, and taking some well-deserved rest. He talked about how he might continue to work and would like to do some teaching in the future but that is his current plan.
As I wrapped up my talk with President Dorsey, I asked if he had any last notes or things to share. He said that he never intended to stay at FRCC this long but that he,
“feels lucky to have found a place that he is proud to work at.”
From the students and staff here at FRCC, we’d just like to thank you, President Dorsey, for all that you have done for this school and this community. We wish you the best in all that you do in the future and we feel lucky to have you be a part of the wolf pack!