By Donna Parker
Jackie Claunch, who received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Trinity in 1966, is the president of Northwest Vista College in San Antonio. She sees her role as one of support for a group of students that comprises what she terms “the ultimate democratic institution.”
“Two things attracted me to Northwest Vista, which is part of the Alamo Community College District,” says Jackie. “First and foremost, it is a teaching institution and that is very much like my Trinity education. Second, it gives people the opportunity to pursue higher education who might not otherwise have had that chance.”
“It’s great being part of the college development and hiring faculty concerned with supporting the students. It’s good to see what we’re able to accomplish. We bring in teachers who, in addition to their credentials, have expertise in distance learning and who will build a classroom that radiates a collaborative environment.”
“Each morning when I walk in from the parking lot and get to speak and interact with the students, it just makes my day!”
Jackie, whose own time as a Trinity student was interrupted for a few semesters at the University of Texas, says she chose to return to Trinity because the atmosphere was much more personal and student oriented. That special quality is something she brings to her current post.
“It’s all about achieving a balance between setting up an environment that empowers the faculty and staff so that they, in turn, empower the students. You have to spend time and energy ensuring that balance works in addition to laying down community roots. The fund-raising aspect of this job is critical. It’s all about building and continuing those relationships.”
Jackie references several Trinity professors as instrumental in her own career development.
“Dr. John Burke Jr., department of chemistry, was always so friendly. Although I wasn’t a chemistry major, he just made me like it more.”
“Dr. Peter Terwey, department of mathematics, was a game changer for me. I happened to stop by his office one day as a senior and he told me IBM was on campus interviewing and that I should go speak with them. I ended up being hired by IBM and often think how differently things would have turned out had I not stopped by his office that afternoon.”
When not at the helm of one of San Antonio’s most respected colleges, Jackie loves to hop on her bike and feel the freedom of riding through the Hill Country outside Helotes. Her late husband, Jack, got her interested in bike riding and now there are few Sundays that slip by without her pedaling along her 28-mile route with a group of friends.
In addition, she loves to dance, particularly the Argentine tango.
“I started taking dance lessons when I was 55,” she laughs. “I love ballroom, Latin, and tango—just about everything and it’s been a great way to meet people outside of work.”
“Mostly these days, I’d like to look back and think that I’ve made a contribution. I see life as a journey and hope I leave the kind of legacy at this college where we have together created a culture that makes people want to be here and see the positive results of their efforts.”
You may contact Jackie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After reading this story if you feel strongly about any Trinity alumni who the Alumni Office should profile in future AlumNet issues, please submit your suggestions. We are looking for suggestions in these four categories: 1) recent grads, 2) grads who innovate, 3) grads in business, and 4) grads who serve the world. Feel free to nominate yourself if you fall in these categories. -- AlumNet Moderator