Although he only arrived at PCC less than two years ago, the man responsible for implementing many of the changes recommended by the accreditation commission has left PCC to work for the Los Angeles Community College District, just as the school heads into the final stretch of its accreditation process.
Dr. Ryan Cornner, director of strategic innovation and planning, came to PCC in the midst of turmoil, both with the conflict between former President Mark Rocha and faculty groups, and with the college’s reaccreditation struggles.
He immediately diagnosed the need for an integrated planning model, well before it was an accreditation recommendation. He was also vital in the effort to both implement and explain the changes the college had to make to comply with the accreditation commission for community and junior colleges (ACCJC).
“Thanks to these efforts, more than 90 percent of our administrative units completed their planning review and projections on time,” Alex Boekelheide, director of strategic communication and marketing, said in an email announcing the departure.
Despite playing a vital role in the school’s accreditation success so far, he leaves at crucial time in the process, with the Planning and Priorities committee drafting their reports to ACCJC for review next month.
“[Dr. Cornner] has spearheaded the integrated planning process, working to bring together faculty, administrators, and staff to present a comprehensive picture of PCC’s operations and future goals, ” Boekelheide said.
Although Cornner began his academic career thinking he would certainly become a psychological clinician, he was soon drawn to education management, teaching, and community colleges.
“I found myself doing whatever I could to get closer to the classroom and students … moving away from the hospital more and more,” Cornner confessed.
Taking advantage of his newfound passion for post-secondary education, Cornner was able to create a unique program at USC teaching community college counseling. Many counseling programs focus on K-12 or four-year university service, so the focus on the community college niche was one-of-a-kind.
One student from his very first teaching cohort, Ingrid Arana, is now a tenure-track counselor at PCC.
“Ryan has been a big part of my development,” Arana said. “He was always helpful and found time, even when I know he was extraordinarily busy.”
Cornner will continue to stay busy in his new position as vice chancellor for educational programs and institutional effectiveness for the Los Angeles Community College District. LACCD will be going through an unprecedented nine accreditation visits at once, and after beginning PCC’s accreditation process, he will lead the district through their process.
Arana now imparts the wisdom Cornner shared with her while she was still learning on the students she encounters.
“He asked me to give a presentation to a board of directors meeting, and believed in me even though I had no idea what I was doing,” Arana said. “He told me, ‘If you don’t know [if you can do] something, just say yes anyway and figure it out. That’s how you grow, and I use that advice to this day.”
Dr. Paul Jarell, dean of instructional support, and Crystal Kollross, director of institutional effectiveness, will handle Dr. Cornner’s responsibilities going forward.
His final day was January 13, 2016.