PVCC’s New Dean Leonda Keniston

Skye Scott, assistant editor

Dr. Leonda Keniston has replaced former Dean of Humanities, Fine Arts, and Social Sciences Cliff Haury, who retired in June 2017 from PVCC after more than 40 years of service. Keniston started her career as a sociology professor at John Tyler Community College (JTCC) before continuing as the chair of humanities and social sciences, the assistant dean of academic affairs, and the associate dean of mathematics, natural and health sciences. From there, she served as the director of assessment and planning at Wor-Wic Community College located in Salisbury, Md., before accepting the position as dean of humanities, fine arts, and social sciences at PVCC.

“Believe it or not, I have always wanted to work at PVCC (and live in Charlottesville).  People ask me all the time, ‘Why PVCC?’ and I tell them that PVCC is a gem among the 23 community colleges in the state. It has a fantastic reputation and I am proud to serve the institution, its students, and faculty,” said Keniston.

As the dean of humanities, fine arts, and social sciences, Keniston is responsible for overseeing multiple academic programs, such as “art, graphic design, music and theater, as well as coursework in the social sciences discipline such as history, political science and sociology,” according to a PVCC press release. She is also in charge of the PVCC Fine Arts and performance seasons.

Leonda Keniston posing for a photo

Leonda Keniston posing for a photo.

Beyond this responsibility, Keniston has new ideas she wants to incorporate in her division at PVCC.  She said, “Some ideas for change involve expanding some of our academic programs, revising others, and starting new ones. I also want to increase the visibility of the division in multiple ways; one way is increased outreach into the greater community. In addition, I want to develop and strengthen additional pathways with area high schools and four-year transfer institutions. These are tall orders, especially around academic programming. Given the number of already outstanding courses and programs emanating from the division, I, along with the division faculty, have a strong foundation to build upon.”

She says that the division faculty will be influential in making these changes happen and that they are an integral part of the division. “With absolute bias on my part, most of the division faculty are rock stars in their own right. They are experts in their fields, collaborative, open to new ideas, and innovative. Making any change requires a new dean like myself to work with faculty such as these every step of the way,” she said.

Keniston said if students are interested in pursuing a career in academics, they should work to be as well-rounded as possible. “Read as much as possible but most important, read deep and wide. If you are inclined towards STEM fields, take as many pure math or statistics courses as possible and learn research methods. Learn how to write well. Network with like-minded people and don’t be afraid to ask questions others may not have considered. Prepare yourself to be a lifelong learner,” she said.

Keniston said that three colleges she has worked at have similar academic and workforce programming, as well as similar student diversity.

“PVCC has an energetic and enthusiastic culture that is infectious. I experienced it when I first arrived on campus and I continue to experience it. I think it’s something in the water! I have talked to a number of students so far and most have reported being excited about being at the college. They are not the only ones. I interact with faculty and staff who are excited about working for the college and serving PVCC students. These employees do what it is necessary to get students engaged in their learning, focused on the future, and ready to take on new challenges. Students notice all of the hard work of faculty and staff,” said Keniston.


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Posted by on Dec 7 2017. Filed under Campus News, From the Forum, Local News, News, Piedmont Profiles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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