Daria J. Willis, Ph.D. is the new Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Onondaga Community College. Her first day on the job was July 5. Willis is beginning the process of introducing herself across campus. “My main focus my first year is building relationships with students, faculty and staff.”
Willis comes to OCC from Lee College in Baytown, Texas where she served as Dean of Academic Studies. Prior to Lee College she was an administrator at Lone Star College in Houston, Texas. Willis has also been a faculty member at both of those colleges along with Florida A&M University and Tallahassee Community College. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Florida A&M University and a doctorate from Florida State University.
The furthest north Willis has ever lived is her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. How did she wind up in the heart of the snow belt? “We were looking for a more socially-minded environment, more liberal, more open-minded. We wanted to try something different and wound up in New York! We’re all about exploring and being adventurous. Why get a Ph.D. and stay at home?”
As OCC’s Provost, Willis is the senior academic administrator. The College’s academic deans will report to her and she will report to College President Dr. Casey Crabill.
Willis is a strong supporter of the College’s commitment to Achieving The Dream, a program focused on access to a high quality education in an inclusive environment. “It’s very important. It helps with student success and retention. I like the aspect of focusing on the students who might need more resources to help them complete. I worked with Achieving The Dream at Lone Star College and Lee College as well.”
As Willis begins her work at the College and navigates through her first year she plans to enjoy the journey. “I’m all about success, equality and having fun. We are here a good chunk of our lives working together. We may as well like each other while we’re doing it and have a little fun in the process!”
Student members of OCC’s Politics Club participated in the political process when they joined College President Dr. Casey Crabill and Associate Vice President of Government Relations Susan Tormey on a tour of local State Senate and Assembly representatives.
The contingent presented OCC’s 2015 Legislative Priorities to lawmakers at the offices of Senator John DeFrancisco (R, 50th District), Senator Dave Valesky (D, 53rd District), Assemblyman William Magnarelli (D, 129th District) and Assemblyman Al Stirpe (D, 127th District).
Politics Club members Amanda Guereschi, Jonathan Rowe and Daniel Quackenbush used the opportunity to tell each lawmaker about their experiences at OCC. They were selected to participate by Political Science Professor Chris Thuot, Ph.D.
Guereschi is a graduate of Chittenango High School and a Humanities major with minors in Honors and Women’s Studies. “It was a great experience to see democracy in action and a wonderful opportunity to show support for a college that means so much to me. It was also great to see and hear our representatives express their interest in OCC student’s success,” said Guereschi.
Rowe came to OCC from Horseheads High School and is an Electronic Media Communications major. “It was an honor to speak with each Senator and Assemblyman. The conversations were very positive,” said Rowe.
During the day of advocating OCC representatives also visited the office of Judge Martha Mulroy. She’s the daughter of John Mulroy, Onondaga County’s first County Executive and a man credited with being OCC’s founding father. “Judge Mulroy gave us great advice on the political process and how to run for office,” said Quackenbush. “Visiting her and all of the legislators was a very inspirational experience.”
When you support Onondaga Community College, you are making a statement that you believe in the importance of quality affordable education for everyone. You are creating new opportunities and new beginnings for students and our greater community.