Brandman University at Whidbey Island names new campus director
Brandman University is welcoming a familiar face as its new campus director at Whidbey Island. Mary Ellen Schief stepped into the leadership role as of Oct. 10, taking over for retired campus director Barbara Bockman.
“I love interacting with the students,” said Schief. “I love feeling like I have a role in their education and I’ve found it very rewarding to play a part in their academic success.”
Schief is no stranger to Brandman, working first as a receptionist 27 years ago, moving into the role as administrative assistant, and then acting as the financial aid coordinator for all five Brandman University campuses in Washington state. She standardized financial aid processes and became known as a problem solver. For the past five years as the senior academic advisor, Schief helped guide students to successfully complete their degrees.
“I’ve filled every role here,” Schief said. “When I worked as a financial aid advisor, I shared how students were investing in themselves. As an academic advisor, I helped them find a path so they could achieve their education goals. It’s important to me that I’ve been a part of our students’ support system.”
Schief knows what it’s like to be an adult learner. She earned her bachelor’s degree in social science from Brandman University in 2003 when it was called Chapman University College. “It took me 14 years to get my degree,” she said. “Then I went on to earn my master’s degree in organizational leadership, graduating in 2008.”
That experience helps Schief relate to students, and how life can sometimes interrupt the educational process. “I’m a resource for students,” she explains. “If I’m here at the office, no one has to make an appointment to see me. I’ll drop what I’m doing to help a student solve a problem, and I have a lot of tips to share from my own experience.”
Schief worked closely with former campus director Bockman, collaborating very closely to create a cohesive program that works for students, especially those in the military. She describes her leadership style as “hands-on,” and eventually hopes to grow the campus and add new programs.
One change Schief and her team are already dealing with is the recent closure of the Navy College Office at Whidbey Island. “We want students to know our university is still here, open, and accepting students,” said Schief.
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