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Widener named vice president of educational services

Widener named vice president of educational services

NORFOLK, Neb. – Northeast Community College has named Dr. Charlene Widener as its new vice president of educational services. She comes to Northeast from North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) in Mason City where she presently serves as vice president of academic affairs and student learning.

In her role as vice president, Widener will serve as the chief academic officer at Northeast by providing leadership and strategic direction for the Educational Services division that includes program development and assessment; teaching and learning assessment, faculty appointment, professional development, and evaluation, and development of academic policy and procedures. She will oversee four academic divisions – applied technology; business and humanities; health and public services; and science, technology, agriculture, and math. 

“It is an honor and to be joining the exceptional faculty, staff, and leadership team at Northeast Community College,” she said. “As a first-generation community college graduate, it is a privilege to have this opportunity to work with a team so deeply committed to student-centered excellence and success, workforce partnerships, and community engagement."

Dr. Leah Barrett, president, said following a nationwide search, including multiple interviews with internal and external candidates, Widener’s experience will serve as a perfect fit for the Cabinet level position. 

“Widener brings a wealth of experience to Northeast Community College as an academic leader, an accreditation peer reviewer and a faculty member,” Barrett said. “She is passionate about student success and has demonstrated experience in process development and improvement.” 
Widener has approximately 25 years’ experience in higher education. She has been in her current position at NIACC since 2019 and served as Hutchinson Community College, Kan. from 2002-2019 as chair of the Fine Arts and Humanities Department and was a Delos V. Smith Endowed Chair in the Performing Arts from 2011-2019. Prior to that time, she was a theatre/speech instructor at Hutchinson, Missouri Western State College and Blue River Community College and Metropolitan Community College.

At NIACC, Widener has facilitated the creation and implementation of an academic affairs and student learning strategic vision, provided innovative leadership for programs including assessment, evaluation of programs, curriculum development, and faculty evaluations, assisted with the development of institutional enrollment management efforts and supervises division chairs, deans, faculty, academic staff, division chairs, deans, and directors within Academic Affairs. 

Widener also has experience as an accreditation coordinator at Hutchinson where she coordinated the Higher Learning Commission assurance system for the college. 

She and her husband, David, have one daughter, Emerson. Widener will begin her duties at Northeast on Feb. 1, 2023.