Alexander Clifford arrived on campus with a strong academic and military background that is expected to augment the impressive administrative team that President Joe Cassidy has created. He replaces Dr. David Sousa who was appointed interim Academic Dean while the college searched nationwide for his replacement.
Clifford has an impressive background in education and is currently working on his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Management with a specialization of Leadership and Organizational Change at Walden University in Minnesota. He expects to be awarded his degree this year. He has a Master’s of Business Administration from Thomas College in Waterville and a Bachelor of Science degree in Professional Business Studies from the same college.
Most recently he was professor of business/grant administrator and curriculum designer at Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield. In 1989 he joined the Maine Army National Guard and is currently a Sergeant Major (E-9).
Clifford talked about his experiences. “At the senior levels within the military, we are required to manage resources, time, and plan for the future with limited resources. In many ways, this reflects our operational situation within the community colleges of Maine,” he said “The men and women who choose to work their professional lives as faculty and staff within our community colleges are very similar to the men and women who serve our country. They live a life that includes selfless service, dedication, and doing right for others at their own personal sacrifice.”
Clifford said he viewed education as always changing. “WCCC as an organization is a living organism. As with all living organisms, it changes and adapts to the changing environment,” he said. “The most influential environmental factor we adapt to is the employer’s needs. If we do not graduate students that are ready and relevant to meet their employer’s needs, then the employers will not hire them and we have not done our job. To that end, we actively communicate with employers and study the labor market trends; within Washington County, Maine, the United States, and internationally. There are many new exciting program offerings coming online at WCCC in the next year that will not only excite people and encourage them to apply, but develop talents and trades in ways that Washington County has never seen before.”
Clifford said he was impressed with the college’s interest in its students. “Attending WCCC is not just about getting a degree. It is much more than that. WCCC changes the life direction for everyone that walks through the door. Several students have mentioned to me how they did not know how valuable they are as a person and future professional before coming to WCCC. From the student services staff to the faculty to the administration, each and every employee cares about the students’ well-being, welfare, and future as a person.”
Clifford said he also appreciated President Cassidy’s leadership style. “Most college presidents state that they care about their faculty and staff, and they genuinely do. But with President Cassidy there’s something different; something that cuts through the noise and gets to the core of what a person really needs to become more successful as an employee or student at this college,” he said.
The new academic dean also said he wanted to live in Washington County. “Having grown up on Deer Isle, I have a deep appreciation for the hard work and strong work ethic that Washington County has to offer. I see this in students every day as they meet an obstacle or challenge head on and have the drive and motivation to either go over it, around it, or through it,” he said.
Even though he has only been on the job a few weeks, Clifford said he cares deeply about the staff he works with and the students. “My position may be just underneath the Presidents on the organizational chart, but I am here to serve the faculty, staff, and students of WCCC in any way that leads us into the future,” he said.
President Cassidy said he was pleased that Clifford was a part of his team. “He not only brings strong leadership skills to the job, but more importantly he is caring and compassionate,” he said.
In addition to an impressive portfolio of academic and professional awards, Clifford was awarded the Bronze Star during his service in Afghanistan, the Meritorious Service Medal for performance in the academy environment, and awarded several Army Commendation medals for leadership and management.