By Cindy Makaba
The college welcomed a new Academic Dean George Anthony (“Tony”) Peffer in September. The job itself is not new for Peffer who served as an academic dean of affairs for seven years prior to arriving at NCC.
Peffer launched his career in higher education at Big Sandy Community and Technical College in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, said the college announcement. He earned tenure and was appointed Chair of the Social Sciences Division at Lakeland University in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Shifting from faculty to administration in 2006, he held a variety of positions in the Ohio University, Vermont State Colleges, and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities systems. He comes to NCC from Bemidji State University in Bemidji, Minnesota, where he served as Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs. Peffer earned his doctoral degree in History from Carnegie Mellon University. He is a specialist in the intersections of race, ethnicity, and gender, and has published numerous works on Asian American History. As an administrator, he has focused on the assessment of student learning and institutional effectiveness and is the past editor of the Journal of Assessment and Institutional Effectiveness.
The Voice interviewed Peffer shortly after he arrived at NCC which was Sept. 2. While he started out as a college faculty member his passion lied more with helping others, he related. It was for this reason he switched to administration.
What attracted him to NCC was the traffic diversity on campus, he said. "The itself isn’t new but each place is new and although I haven't been at NCC very long I enjoy working at a place that has such racial, ethnic, and lifestyle diversity. It’s a dream come true.”
Peffer related some of the challenges colleges and students face in COVID-19 which he feels even before the pandemic, were already a challenge. “The difference now is we are required to accomplish more with less. What we need to do is now is be efficient without burning out and the staff in higher education should continue to find joy in their work.”
The advice he has for students at NCC is to hang in there. The pandemic was most challenging in March and NCC is more prepared now for what's to come, Peffer related. He wants students to connect to the campuses as much and as safely as possible, even getting together with classmates because it makes a huge difference when we are to see and build connections with each other. He reminds students that normal will return.
Some of the best advice he's gotten in his career is to pursue what makes him most want to do the work. The reason for that is because all work is hard but if you value it, it won’t feel hard.
Peffer was asked about any precautions to follow in case there is a COVID-19 spike. Although he has been at NCC less than a month he's been in multiple meetings working on the “what ifs."
"No one can predict what the fall or winter will bring but so far plans are succeeding," Peffer said. He is aware things can change but said students have doing a great job wearing masks and social distancing.
Asked to relate some of the qualities that make him good at his job, Peffers said listening. But This doesn't only apply to his job, he continued. Others include caring for others first, planning ahead, having an innovative mindset, and being able to think outside the box. For him the number one focus is helping students succeed.
Norwalk Community College Academic Dean George Anthony (“Tony”) Peffer - Contributed Photo