Barbara Bolson

Barbara Bolson

Kodiak College will be under new leadership next year after director Barbara Bolson announced her resignation.

Bolson has been the head of Kodiak College for seven years, but said now is a good time for a transition in leadership because the college is stable. With a handful of grants that have a few years left, the budget is in a good place and the college will have a full faculty as of January.

“We’ve had a lot of change in the last seven years,” she said. “We’ve brought an influx of technology and public recognition. It’s time for the next person to come in with the next new ideas and the next stage of development.”

Bolson moved from Washington to Kodiak in 2005 with 20 years of experience in the education field as an administrator and teacher. She arrived on a one-year contract to work as an administrator at Kodiak High School but decided to stay on the island when her contract ended.

“Once I got here, you fall in love with Kodiak and you start to see the possibilities,” she said. “I love the people. I love the students. I love the staff and faculty I worked with. I put down roots very quickly.”

Bolson joined the Kodiak Public Broadcasting board of directors, which is where she met Connie Dooley, then the college director, and learned of the college’s open assistant director position. Bolson started as the college’s assistant director in April 2006, and by the following April, she was the full-time director.

Her goal as director was to advance the mission of the college and make it more visible in the community. She said Dooley referred to the college as “a well-kept secret,” and one of her goals was to change that.

Bolson wanted to make Kodiak College a viable option for high school students who didn’t want to leave Kodiak, and she did that by raising the level of awareness of the college through several high-profile grants, an updated website, more public events and community involvement.

Under her leadership, college enrollment numbers grew. In the 2006-2007 academic year, fall enrollment was at 666 students and spring enrollment was at 717. By the 2012-2013 year, fall enrollment had reached 933 and spring enrollment was at 943. The number of programs offered at the college also expanded to include more online classes and a four-year teaching degree program.

Bolson said she enjoyed her experience as the director of the college and issued the following statement about her resignation:

“I’ve been blessed with having leadership that recognized and took advantage of my strengths and skills and who put them to good use to help open doors of opportunity for students and those with whom I’ve worked. I’ve been fortunate to have loved every situation I’ve been in — What can be better than that? I’ve been blessed and am ending my educational career with fond memories, great friendships and a wealth of stories to share.”

Bolson plans to move to Washington state to be closer to her children and grandchildren. She said that while her career in education is coming to a close, she is excited for the future and plans to pursue artwork and volunteerism.

“I’ve recently discovered an artistic piece of me that I didn’t know existed,” Bolson said. “I’d like to look at developing that creativity.”

Bolson said she also hopes to get involved in protecting voters’ rights, something she couldn’t do before in her public role.

“I would like to work in that area,” she said. “I feel that there’s forces out there chipping away at people’s ability to impact political processes and I think we need to protect that.”

Bolson has not finalized her last day, as it is up to University of Alaska Anchorage chancellor to decide when that will be. She said it is likely she will remain at Kodiak College through graduation in the spring. Once the logistics are figured out, the university will begin the process of looking for a new director.

Contact Mirror writer Nicole Klauss at nklauss@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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