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Dr. Autumn Porter

After a three-month search, State Fair Community College has announced Dr. Autumn Porter will become the college’s next Dean of Student and Support Services.  

Porter replaces Dr. Joseph Gilgour, who announced his resignation in early March to accept the presidency of Mineral Area College.  

“We are very excited to have Dr. Porter joining the SFCC family,” SFCC President Dr. Joanna Anderson said shortly after the Board of Trustees vote to hire Porter May 28. “Not only does she have great experience but she brings a great deal of energy and enthusiasm into the position.”

Anderson pointed to Porter’s experience with the Title IX program as a factor that set her apart from other applicants.

“Compliance and legal matters are an important part of the position,” Anderson explained. “She has a strong background in those areas and has a variety of experiences that she will bring as she takes on the dean’s role.”

Working directly with students is one of the reasons Porter said she was attracted to SFCC.

“I have had the privilege of working in Student Services since I came to higher education in 2013, so I focused my career search on positions that would continue to allow me to serve students and serve the people who serve students at community colleges,” Porter said. “In this position, I will have the chance to continue to help people move forward toward their personal goals and do so in a progressive community that prides itself on a small-town atmosphere.”

During her tenure at Ozarks Technical Community College, Porter served as the first Student Services Director at the branch campus location in Hollister, just south of Branson.

“It was exciting to be able to build programs, events and relationships with students and with the community from the day the campus doors opened,” Porter said.

“Most recently, I served as the Assistant Title IX Coordinator for the entire college system — all five physical locations and OTC Online,” she continued. “In that role, I was responsible for facilitating educational programs for students, faculty and staff, investigating complaints of discrimination and harassment, and providing case management and support for students under Title IX.”

Porter received her doctorate from Lindenwood University in 2017. She has certifications from the Association of Title IX Administrators as Title IX Administrator (Level 1) and Civil Rights Investigator (Level 1).

Working in higher education was not originally a career goal, according to Potter, who said she came to higher education rather haphazardly. She worked in nonprofit human services organizations for about 15 years before applying for the Student Services Director position at OTC Table Rock. She was looking for opportunities that would “allow me to love people, make a difference in my community, and not have to raise money anymore.”

“Working in Student Services at a community college was not something I had ever considered before, but it was a perfect fit,” she continued. “It doesn't get any better than spending your working hours helping people who are committed to moving forward in life. There is so much positive energy, grit and hope in the halls of a community college — it's contagious!”

Porter is quick to credit the efforts of others when asked about her years at OTC. Those team efforts are something Porter hopes to bring to her new role at SFCC.

“I value a highly-collaborative work environment and take steps to foster synergy in each role I take on,” Porter wrote in her application package to SFCC. “Regardless of industry, no single department or office holds all the information or tools needed for an effective or efficient outcome.

“I have found this especially true in my work at OTC,” she continued. “To best create opportunities for student success, faculty, administration and staff each need the input, advice, and experiences of others. When expertise and energy is allowed to blend across traditional division and department boundaries, amazing results occur.”  

Porter will begin her tenure at SFCC June 17. The college continues to interview to fill the vacancy of Dean of Career and Technical Education Mark Kelchner who resigned in March and Vice President for the Business Office Gary Sorrell who has announced his retirement.

Education Reporter

Hope Lecchi is the education reporter for the Democrat, covering all things education in Sedalia and Pettis County, as well as providing general assignment and feature coverage. She can be reached at 660-530-0144.

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