College president candidate wants to form partnerships

Christopher Dyer

Christopher Dyer, the president and CEO of the University of New Mexico-Gallup campus for three years and one of four presidential hopefuls for Clatsop Community College, visited Astoria Friday to talk about why he wants to take the lead.

“We really need stronger community connections for this place to thrive,” Dyer said of the college, touting such connections he’s made in New Mexico, including an early childhood center, veterans center, a workforce development division and an emergency medical services academy.

The Gallup campus is a two-year institution serving about 2,300 students and focusing on transfer degrees and certificates, similar to a community college. Dyer has been there for three years as CEO and an anthropology professor.

Dyer said he has 12 to 14 more years left of working, and wants to do it in one place. He has five grown children and said his wife, Cynthia, recently retired and wants to be close to a son and granddaughter in Portland.

Before New Mexico, Dyer served as dean of academic affairs and an anthropology professor at West Plains, one of Missouri State University’s three campuses, since 2010.

He was the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Our Lady of the Lake University, an independent Catholic university in San Antonio, Texas, for most of 2009. He held a similar position from 2004 to 2009 at the University of Mount Olive, a private Christian college associated with the Free Will Baptist Church in North Carolina.

Dyer speaks fluent Spanish and has worked in 21 countries. He spent a year as the dean of strategic initiatives at The School for Field Studies, an environmental study abroad program; nearly two years as a professor and director of the Center for Public Policy at Rhode Island College, a state-run liberal arts college; and more than two years as a senior evaluation specialist with Aguirre International, a social issues research company serving governments and nonprofits.

“I’ve got a lot of programs in mind,” Dyer said, pointing toward more workforce development programs such as marine welding, hospitality, culinary arts, forest products and renewable energy.

Dyer said the college should invest in the Marine and Environmental Research and Training Station campus and form public-private partnerships to help add programs and staff.

The other finalists for college president are Glenn Smith, an administrator from Concordia University in Portland; Ron Liss, a former president from Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio; and Christopher Breitmeyer, the vice president for academic and student affairs at St. Charles Community College in Missouri.

The college board held an executive session Saturday to deliberate further on candidates.