Dr. Cheryl Siemers, the new director of Kenai Peninsula College, is seen in this undated photo. She begins her term on Monday, June 21, 2021. (Courtesy photo)

Dr. Cheryl Siemers, the new director of Kenai Peninsula College, is seen in this undated photo. She begins her term on Monday, June 21, 2021. (Courtesy photo)

Cheryl Siemers to lead Kenai Peninsula College

Gary Turner is the current KPC director, and will be stepping down in June.

Kenai Peninsula College announced Dr. Cheryl Siemers as its new director on Friday morning. She is set to take over on June 21.

Siemers has worked in higher education for over a decade, both at Alaska Christian College and currently as an English professor and the assistant director of academic affairs at KPC. She will oversee all three campus locations in Seward, Soldotna and Homer.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity,” Siemers said. “I’m a longtime Alaskan … so I am committed to the success of Kenai Peninsula College.”

She is in particular devoted to students who are place-committed, electing to live in Peninsula communities, she said.

KPC is affiliated with the University of Alaska Anchorage, and offers 10 associate, five online and three undergraduate degree programs. Additionally, there is one occupational endorsement certificate through the college.

Gary Turner is the current KPC director, and will be stepping down in June.

Siemers said Turner has built a foundation based on trust, transparency and clear communication, which she plans to build on.

She’s also excited about the post-pandemic opportunities of phasing students back in, “cautiously.”

“We’re going to be hopefully emerging from COVID,” Siemers said. “We’d like to see our face-to-face offerings increase.”

In the classroom, Siemers has worked to incorporate both local and Indigenous methodology for curriculum development.

“I’ve done a fair bit of research on place-committed education and thinking through ways that we can draw on traditions and history and the uniqueness of this place to infuse the way we teach and engage students with their learning,” Siemers said. “That is best approached with a diversity of perspectives … And that enlivens and invigorates the learning context.”

She has launched initiatives to diversify classroom teaching models, and has worked to make higher education in Alaska more accessible to more people.

Siemers has worked on KPC’s jump-start program, which grants high school students dual-enrollment opportunities at the college. She also said she works to accurately streamline methods for student academic placement in order to start them on their career trajectories.

Siemers earned master’s in English at the University of Alaska Anchorage and her Ph.D. in rhetoric and linguistics from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

“KPC will be in great hands under Cheryl’s leadership. I can’t think of anyone better serving in this role,” Turner said in a press release.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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