Dean of Regional and Continuing Education Debra Barger retired Monday. Her retirement celebration was held in Colusa 100 Friday.
Q: When did you start at the university?
A: I started in October of 1988 at the university. I came to Chico for a job interview. I had never been here. I had never even been past San Francisco because I had been living in Germany for a number of years. After graduate school, I decided to live abroad so I worked for an American college under contract to the Department of Defense. We had educational programs throughout Europe and the Middle East.
Q: Were you originally hired as the Dean of Regional and Continuing Education?
A: No, I had a different job. My whole career here at Chico State has been in this office, but I’ve been promoted from within so before I was dean I was associate dean and before that a director.
Q: What is regional and continuing education?
A: Regional and continuing education is a fascinating organization made up of many different programs. It includes what we refer to as self-support, meaning the purpose of the organization is to strengthen and expand the resources of the university to fulfill lifelong learning needs. We coordinate support for students working towards their degrees that are not on campus. We also have a learning and retirement organization for people 50 and above that want to take classes just for the love of learning. So we do special non-credit classes for them.
Q: Who will be your successor?
A: The interim dean will be Clare Roby and she is currently the associate dean here. She has been the associate dean for just about a decade. The provost anticipates a search, beginning in the fall, to hire a permanent replacement.
Q: What will you miss most about the job?
A: I think it’s a tremendous privilege to be involved in continuing higher education. The transformative power of education is exhilarating and I shall miss that excitement. I will continue to love it but watch it from afar.
Q: What do you plan on doing after retirement?
A: I am going to be spending lots of more time with friends and family. I’ve never been one of those people who said I’m going wait until I retire to do things, so I’ve been spending time with friends and family while employed, but now I’ll have a lot more time to enjoy.
Q: Do you plan on staying in Chico?
A: Yes, my husband and I plan on staying in the Chico community. We literally live one mile west of here, so I walk to work every day. I’ve also been involved in the community (and) I’m currently the President of the League of Women Voters of Butte County.
Q: What do you love most about Chico?
A: The trees, the beauty and the fabulous soil. I’m the gardener so (I love) the fact we grow food year-round. I love that Northern California, since it’s such a rich agriculture area, has farmer’s markets and people that value community as well as healthy living. The city of Chico and the surrounding community are more connected, so I appreciate that.
Q: What do you think your biggest accomplishment was at this job?
A: All the students that we touched was amazing, but perhaps it really is the remodel of Colusa Hall. It transformed the campus core because we needed a space to come together. The remodel conceived a professional meeting space with a building from 1920. The building reflects the values of the campus about embracing sustainability, letting in natural light and creating a place where people can gather to learn.
Mathew Miranda can be reached at [email protected] or @MathewMiranda24 on Twitter.