An American Council of Education fellow will reside at Cal Poly Pomona for the fall semester to learn from President Soraya M. Coley and other campus leaders in hopes of shaping her future ambitions in higher education.
Tara Giblin, the dean of mathematics and science at Orange Coast College, will be Cal Poly Pomona’s third ACE fellow.
From the start, Giblin noted that “Cal Poly Pomona is really student-focused.” The university was at the top of her list to reside because of its unique inclusive polytechnic approach.
“I wanted to come here because of President Coley’s interest in student success,” she said.
Giblin prioritizes student success, owing her own career accomplishments to those who encouraged her to aim higher. Wanting to inspire others, Giblin started out as an associate professor in biology and biochemistry at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, and later saw an opening at the college for the dean of humanities and science.
“I was told that this would be a good opportunity for me and so I said, ‘Sure, why not!’ ”
After two years as dean, Giblin moved into her current role at OCC in 2014. She says she enjoys the diversity and size of a community college setting. OCC President Dennis Harkins encouraged Giblin to apply for the ACE fellowship to further develop her career.
“Other people have always encouraged me to try something new. A year ago, I would have never imagined being able to shadow a great president at a different institution,” she said.
Giblin’s joy in bridging connections with others allows her to create teams and initiate new projects that encourage unity and teamwork. This is evident in the six months she resided in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, as a Fulbright Scholar in 2011. Through an international exchange program, she worked at a newly established medical school where she lectured in biochemistry while engaging in a research project on attitudes towards problem-based learning. Her time in Kathmandu heightened her appreciation of cultural diversity.
Giblin is a part of the ACE fellowship program, in which 45 emerging leaders in higher education are selected to study the day-to-day roles of presidents at a university of their choice. Fellows can experience the culture, politics and decision-making processes of another institution.
Giblin has a bachelor’s in biology from the University of Illinois and a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Although Giblin is uncertain what her future role in higher education will look like, she knows what she wants: a student-centered university that has good institutional values. Giblin wants hands-on learning to be at the forefront of whatever she does next and believes that Cal Poly Pomona will set the standard.