Dr. Joyce Ester

By Continuing Education

Introducing Normandale's New President, Dr. Joyce Ester

After a comprehensive national search, Dr. Joyce Ester was selected from an impressive group of candidates. On August second, she officially started her tenure as Normandale Community College's fifth president. President Ester brings extensive experience in higher education administration with a demonstrated track record of results-driven leadership.

The Importance of Applied Learning
Dr. Ester has a long-standing connection with continuing education programs, serving as an American Sign Language instructor early in her career, and presiding over numerous business partnerships.

When asked about the importance of the college's connection with the business community, she said, "We hear and read so much about employers who struggle to find qualified applicants for their open positions. Many of those who do hire applicants see a mismatch between job requirements and new employee skill levels,
and that has led to some great frustration from all sides.

Dr. Joyce Ester and Dr. Joe OpatzRather than have a polarizing conversation, however, I am looking forward to developing positive relationships with our business community that can help everyone succeed. At the end of the day, we might be using some different words, but I truly believe we all share the same priorities.

For example, many employers talk about what is missing: problem solving, flexibility, decision-making, communication, the ability to navigate an increasingly complex workplace. These are all hallmarks of a strong liberal arts education, and Normandale has an excellent reputation in this area. So, why does this perception persist? I believe there is a bridge that needs to be built between learning and doing, and we can definitely help build it."

Learning in New Ways
Over her career as an educator and administrator in several different states, Dr. Ester has seen never-ending changes in higher education, especially recently. When asked about some of the biggest challenges, she said, "Our world is changing at an unprecedented rate, and higher education is certainly not immune to that trend. For Normandale to be successful at helping learners and organizations manage change, we need to be adjusting our notion of what it means to learn.

For example, we are challenging the notion that all learning has to happen in a formal class environment. I'm not just talking here about online learning, which is important but primarily represents a different vehicle for accessing the same product. Especially given the way our organizations have changed, collaboration and real-time learning are critical. Although
I am just arriving, I am excited to learn about several innovative initiatives at Normandale, and I look forward to continuing that trend."

The Role of the President
The president plays many roles every day, and one of the roles that Dr. Ester particularly enjoys is reaching out to the community. She says, "I truly look forward to meeting all of our business partners, including those who we currently work with and those we have not yet met. I view my role as a relationship builder and conversation starter. For me to do my job effectively, I need to directly hear how we can best provide the services that will help grow our region and state through effective and innovative workforce development.

We work best when we partner together. As Aboriginal leader Lilia Watson said, 'If you have come here to help me, you are wasting our time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.'"

"Together, we will continue to provide new pathways to student success and collaborate with business partners and the community to meet community, industry, and workforce demands." ~President Joyce Ester

Dr. Joyce Ester and Students