Whidbey Island campus director marks 31 years with Brandman University
In 1984, Ronald Reagan sat in the White House, athletes competed in the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, and “Terms of Endearment” starring Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger won the Academy Award for Best Picture. That year, Barbara Bockman joined Brandman University, known then as Chapman University College, at the North Island satellite campus in San Diego, as secretary to the assistant campus director.
Little did she know she was embarking on a career path for the next 30 years.
“Back then, there wasn’t an internet so we held classes for five hours, one night a week,” said Bockman. “It was all paper registration. We also had videotapes that students could check out and then work with a textbook and a study guide. It was a much different world.”
Bockman marked 31 years with Brandman University on Sept. 4. She’s held several positions in that time, transferring to Whidbey Island in 1996 with her husband, who was active duty Navy. Brandman named Bockman campus director for the Whidbey Island campus in 1999, and she’s been at the helm there ever since.
“The best part of this job is the ability to create what I do in this job,” explained Bockman. “It’s very entrepreneurial, and Brandman gives me a lot of autonomy to meet the university’s goals. I love the ability to be creative, collaborate and hear new ideas to make things work.”
Bockman said the bottom line is to serve students, and she keeps their best interests at heart. As a military spouse, Bockman understands the special challenges that military students and their spouses can face with deployments, heavy workloads or being a single parent. “I know what it’s like to be the military spouse left behind during a long deployment,” she said.
When she looks back over 31 years, Bockman recalls fondly the many, many relationships she’s forged during that time, with both faculty and students. She estimates that she’s advised more than 2,000 students during the course of their college careers, and she continues to be an academic advisor, as well as campus director, to keep close to students.
“I like to help students and teach young people,” said Bockman. “While I’m not their mom, I do want to make them feel like family. It’s an opportunity to help them mature, and I love that part of my job.”
As a life-long learner, Bockman also appreciates the value of a college education. In fact, she earned her advanced degrees from Brandman and credits the university with providing the opportunity for other family members to receive their degrees, too. “Education is more than what you might learn in a book, and I’m enriched every day because of my work.”
Bockman says she has no plans to step down anytime soon, but at some point, will move to be closer to her grandchildren so she can be an active grandmother. For now, however, she has her sights set on her current students and the next graduation.
“I like looking back on the students’ first visit to the office when they didn’t think they could do it, and I love graduation and the fact they got their degrees because of Brandman,” Bockman said. “Each of our students has a story and an opportunity because they got a degree. It’s a great job!”
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