September 11, 2019 Richard Rezler
Two recently-named academic deans are among the many new faces on the Washtenaw Community College campus for the Fall 2019 semester. Dr. Scott Britten was hired as the Dean of Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences and Dr. Victor Vega joins the college as Dean of Mathematics, Science and Engineering Technology.
“Scott and Victor both have impressive track records as college faculty and administrators, but I think the trait they both possess that swayed our selection committees in their favor is their passion for community colleges,” said WCC Vice President of Instruction Dr. Kimberly Hurns. “It’s been a pleasure getting to know them over the last couple of weeks and I look forward to watching their respective divisions achieve great things under their leadership.”
Getting to Know Dr. Scott Britten
Britten comes to WCC from Milwaukee Area Technical College, where he was Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences, English and Communication. Previously, he served as Dean of Arts and Sciences at Tri-County Technical College in Greenville, South Carolina, and Edison Community College in Piqua, Ohio.
“By training and predisposition, I’m a liberal arts educator. Seeing how WCC embraces its complex mission as a community college is the reason I wanted to be here,” Britten said. “The work done at community colleges changes the lives of students. That, in turn, changes the lives of their families. And that, in turn, can change the lives of everyone in the community. There is no better calling.”
Britten, a native of the Texas panhandle, is a product of two-year college himself. He was a part-time student while working full-time as a technical communicator in the oil industry, until the collapse in demand for petroleum cost him his job. He enrolled at the University of Oklahoma, where he earned a bachelor's and master’s degree, before earning a Ph. D. in Speech Communication from the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign.
“I could not have done any of that if not for the unique American institution of open-enrollment community college,” Britten says. “It changed my life. Education has continually brought me to a point in my life where I was able to have choices.”
Britten has a proven track record of strengthening student success and access, creating transfer agreements with four-year colleges and universities, and building college-going culture and readiness among community college students and their families. Along with his administrative roles, he has years of experience as a faculty member, with research and teaching interests in media, rhetoric and politics.
When not in his role as an educator, Britten enjoys music, theatre, film, literature and the outdoors, along with binge watching Stranger Things.
Getting to Know Dr. Victor Vega
Vega joins WCC from Glenville State College in Glenville, West Virginia, where he served as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs since July 2018. Prior to that, Vega was Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at the College of Coastal Georgia in Brunswick, Georgia, and a professor of mathematics at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa.
Vega was born, raised and lived in Puerto Rico until the age of 28, when he left to pursue a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Iowa. It was in Iowa City that Vega established a love of the Midwest; a place he and his wife, Noris, have hoped to return to since heading toward the East Coast nearly a decade ago.
“Georgia and West Virginia are good places, but they’re not the same as the Midwest,” Vega said. “I think the difference is the people. They’re polite, nice, welcoming. There’s just something about the Midwest you don’t find other places.”
While his career has led Vega to college administrative roles, he maintains a passion for the classroom and has taught at least one mathematics class at every position he held. At Glenville State, he led a statistics class for male inmates at the nearby Gilmer Federal Correctional Institution.
“I’ve always liked to keep connected with the classroom and the students,” Vega said. “I’m not teaching a class this semester as I get to know my way around WCC, but I hope that will be an anomaly. My plan is to teach at least one class to keep that connection.”
Like Britten, Vega said he was attracted to the opportunity of making an impact on the world at a community college.
“Community colleges are the ones on the front lines preparing the kids,” he said. “Many institutions say they are student-centered, but community colleges are the ones that are actually working one-on-one with students, supporting them and helping them achieve the dream of earning their degree.
“That’s what I wanted to do … not just talk the talk, let’s actually do it. In this position, I get to work with a great faculty and administration to make it a reality,” Vega continued. “There’s nothing better than watching a student get an education. Education is the great equalizer.”