To say that Jessica Richardson in the new provost office has been a life-long fan of Umpqua Community College is to make a literal statement. “UCC has been a part of my life (since) around 8 years old,” Richardson says, “I took a sheep shearing class that had a field trip to Oregon State University.”
Richardson, a native of Myrtle Creek, does not mind her daily commute to work at all. “I love the small towns; it’s like a step back in time,” she says, referring to the rural area she calls home. As a runner, she says she can travel into Myrtle Creek’s downtown within 5 minutes, yet her home is in the peaceful and quiet outskirts. “It’s totally worth the drive to work.”
Her early involvement with UCC programs continued soon after her field trip. “I took another (UCC) class when I was about 10 or so at South Umpqua High School when they first got computers there, and I learned about computer programming,” she says. Through the years, she took community education classes which she then went on to teach in the ‘90s.
Richardson started working on campus in 2009 teaching community education and then worked in advising for four years until a promotion moved her to administrative assistant for the Career Technical Education Department. She was promoted to executive assistant to the vice president for instruction in 2015. “And then,” she says, “I got another promotion this year for this position.”
Her position now, as executive assistant to the provost, can best be explained by first understanding the duties of a provost. Specifically, a provost’s areas of responsibility vary from one institution to another, but their main functions are to coordinate academics and student services, acting as an intermediary between the two and serving as chief executive officer when the incumbent is absent from campus.
“Much of what I do is behind the scenes,” Richardson says. “I help a lot with accreditation, which means the education you get is of the highest quality.” Accreditation is the verification of a school’s adherence to standards, leading to a continuous cycle of improvement as reviewed by peers from other schools. “Without accreditation,” Richardson says, “your diploma isn’t worth anything.”
Being a less visible employee on campus is about the only drawback of her position, Richardson says, although she tries to interact with the campus outside of her office when possible. “Running is one of my bigger passions, and it’s what I need to wind down after a long day,” she says. “You’ll often see me after work at the track or just walking around campus.”
Along with her employment here, Richardson also earned a business degree and walked at last year’s graduation. “I wish I had started my (business) education sooner,” she says, “I didn’t really need it with the career field I was in before (she was a trainer certified through the College of Sports Medicine before her return to UCC).
Her love and connections with this campus are echoed by one of her two teens as well. Her daughter first took a swimming class at three months old and is now a dual-enrolled junior here.