Meet the six finalists for the VP slot

The Vice President of Academic Affairs was chosen last week, but many people may not know how many or who was in the running. 

After interviewing many candidates from a national search, the college chose six individuals to go to the second round for the spot and they spoke about themselves Feb. 19 in a virtual forum

To start the forum, the candidates took two minutes and introduced themselves to those listening and watching the forum.

Dr. Makenna Green Garrison

One candidate to introduce herself was Dr. Makenna Green Garrison, who has been employed at OCCC in multiple capacities, including student affairs, academic affairs, and as a faculty member.

Garrison has worked at OCCC for ten years this coming April, she said.

She now serves as interim associate vice president for Academic Affairs.

“I am also a proud graduate here at OCCC,” she said. 

“I was very happy to return and work at OCCC.”

Dr. Carl Bridges

Another candidate forum viewers met was Carl Bridges, Ph.D.. He is the program director at a small profit school in the Chicago area. 

Bridges graduated from Northern Illinois University, while earning an degree in business where he was given his “first taste of administrative work,” he said. 

Bridges is a faculty member at Midwestern Career College in Illinois. He also spent a year as Dean of Student Services at Kennedy King College in Illinois

“I really think that helped me become a better academic leader,” Bridges said.

Dr. Fabian Vega

Another candidate who spoke to the 141 people watching the live-stream was Dr. Fabian Vega. He said he spent the first half of his life working in mental health, and worked with disadvantaged children and families.

Vega was also the dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Hudson Valley Community College in New York.

Before his time at Hudson Valley, Vega worked as an associate dean of the Education and Behavior Social Science Department at Baltimore City Community College. 

“I bring a lot of that experience into the classroom, and into the higher Ed format,” Vega said.

Vega is no stranger to the classroom, working as an associate adjunct professor of psychology for the School of Professional Development at Trinity Washington University in Washington, D.C.

“I am familiar with some of the adjustments students have to make,” Vega said.

Dr. Max Simmons

Another candidate many at OCCC know was Dr. Max Simmons, who serves as dean of Science, Engineering and Math at OCCC. 

Simmons said this is his 17th year as division dean. He also served as professor of physics and astronomy for nine years at OCCC, he said.

Before becoming dean,  Simmons spent six years serving as a department chair. 

“At OCCC, the department chair role is best described as the first among equals,” he said. “I hope to use the skills, the knowledge and the passion I’ve acquired in my service.”

Dr Gregory South

Dr. Gregory South, who has spent over 30 years of progressive responsibility in higher education, was another candidate.

South is a graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Management in Leadership in Education programs.

He said he had much administrative experience including over 15 years as an executive and senior administrative.

“I don’t know that I’m the best leader, but I have been around people that were tremendous leaders, and I learned a great deal from them,” South said. 

“I was interested in being the best leader I could in education, and so I pursued the path.” 

Dr. Vincent Bridges

The last candidate to introduce himself is Dr. Vincent Bridges. Bridges has served as dean of Health Professions at OCCC since 2018.

Bridges said he started teaching in 1995 in business and industry and took on more leadership responsibilities and administrative roles over the years.

“I’m a strong leader,” he said. “I am a visionary who utilizes a collaborative approach to leadership,” Dr. Bridges said.

Bridges earned his doctorate in Organizational Leadership & Management from Argosy University, a master’s in Healthcare Administration from Oklahoma State University, and a master’s in Adult Education and a bachelor’s in Health Science from the University of Central Oklahoma. 

Bridges is also a degreed chemist with a concentration on medicinal chemistry and pathology, he said.