STCC Announces New Leadership Positions
Springfield Technical Community College is pleased to announce appointments to two new positions: assistant vice president of student affairs and dean of students, and director of community engagement.
Dr. John B. Cook, president of STCC, appointed LaRue A. Pierce, of Springfield, to the position of assistant vice president of student affairs and dean of students. Cook also named Lidya Rivera-Early, of Springfield, as director of community engagement.
Pierce, of Springfield, has worked as dean of student affairs at STCC since August 2015. In his new position, Pierce has taken on broader responsibilities. He oversees several departments at STCC, including the Springfield Adult Learning Center, which provides Adult Basic Education (ABE) services such as English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).
Pierce also oversees Student Activities and Development, Disability Services, Veterans Academic Affairs, Center for Access Services, Athletics, Multicultural Affairs and TRIO Student Support Services.
While his responsibilities have changed, Pierce said his goal has remained the same: to advocate for and support students as they pursue their educational and career goals.
“I will continue to look at ways to reduce barriers so that students are successful,” Pierce said. “Essentially my role is to advocate for students and identify or address any internal or external barriers that may impact their success.”
A former college football player, Pierce said he understands the value of teamwork and community. He wants to inspire students to become more involved and engaged in campus life. “When students are involved in co-curricular activities and engaged in their academics, the campus becomes a vibrant learning environment.”
For Pierce, the most rewarding part of his job is seeing students succeed. The first person in his family to attend and graduate from college, Pierce said he understands the difficulties that come with being a first-generation college student and can relate to students who are first-generation students.
Pierce grew up in Reddick, Fla, and graduated from North Marion High School. He received a master of science in education with an emphasis on special education and a bachelor of arts in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. He also holds an educational administration k-12 principal certification from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.
Before coming to STCC, he worked at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., as associate dean of students, director of academic support center and coordinator of judicial affairs. He held similar positions at Vincennes University in Vincennes, Ind., and Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio.
Stepping into her new role as director of community engagement, Rivera-Early said she’s ready to strengthen connections between STCC and the community, including area nonprofit organizations, businesses and industry partners.
“People know that STCC is here, but do they know all we really do?” said Rivera-Early, a Springfield resident. “In my new role, I will seek opportunities in the community for our faculty, staff and students to share their expertise and experience. I will also remind our community of all the services and cultural opportunities available to them on the STCC campus.
“We are Springfield’s community college, and, in addition to our programs and courses, you will find our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program, THRIVE@STCC – our one-stop financial assistance center – the Amy H. Carberry Fine Arts Gallery, Ovations – Educational & Cultural Event Series – Farmers’ Market (every Wednesday afternoon) and our Diversity Speaker & Performance Series. Our campus is located in the heart of our community, and we want the community to visit and feel connected.”
Since 2013, Rivera-Early has worked as program manager/director responsible for the management of the Transformation & GPSTEM project at STCC. An acronym for Guided Pathways to Success in Science, Technology and Mathematics, GPSTEM focuses on addressing the training and education needs of workers and employers in Massachusetts.
Before joining STCC, Rivera-Early worked as a grant administrator for the City of Springfield and for the Springfield Housing Authority as grants coordinator and manager.
All of her public service positions share a common theme: helping those in need. Whether it’s through writing a grant or meeting with someone needing job training, she has strived to make a meaningful difference in their lives.
Born in Stamford, Conn., Rivera-Early spent part of her childhood in Puerto Rico before moving to Springfield. She graduated from Central High School in 1994. Her early jobs in the business sector were financially rewarding, but she yearned to find work that could have a bigger impact on people’s lives.
“Like many of STCC’s returning adult students, one day I said ‘I’m going to go back to school. I’m going to get my degrees, and I’m going to do what I love,'” Rivera-Early said.
Rivera-Early enrolled at Springfield College, where she received a bachelor’s degree in Human Services and a master’s degree in Organizational Management and Leadership in Human Services in 2011.
After graduation, she took a position at the Springfield Housing Authority, which ultimately led her to STCC. “Luckily, I’ve been able to find jobs that I really love,” Rivera-Early said.
While she has a new title, Rivera-Early said she will continue to do the kind of rewarding work she dreamed about when she left the world of business.
“When you love what you do, you never work a day in your life,” Rivera-Early said. “I love getting up in the morning, coming here and helping our students and the institution get farther along.”