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Community college is ‘the only place I want to work,’ says MCC’s new vice chancellor for instruction

August 5, 2020
By Tim Engle

Suzanne Gochis, vice chancellor for instruction and chief academic officer, Metropolitan Community College

Metropolitan Community College’s new vice chancellor for instruction and chief academic officer landed here from California, but Sue Gochis’ roots run deep in Kansas — and community colleges.

Although she started her career teaching math in high school (and college, as an adjunct), Gochis has worked exclusively at community colleges for 25 years, first as a faculty member and later as an administrator. 

Most recently (since 2017), she was assistant superintendent and vice president of student services at Cabrillo College in Northern California, which serves about 11,000 students per term. There she oversaw admissions and records, financial aid, campus security, student conduct, academic counseling, career services, advising, assessment, first-year experience and student organizations, among other programs. She started at MCC in July. 

“A community college system is the only place I want to work,” says Gochis (pronounced GAW-chiss, along the lines of gotcha). “Everyone is so diverse and at different stages in their lives. Community colleges are able to provide opportunities to truly transform lives, and that is something that makes me so devoted to the community college mission.” 

As the new CAO (replacing Caron Daugherty, who left the College in June), Gochis says her early areas of focus will include: 

  • Pandemic-related instructional plans. “It seems like each day brings a new issue or needed adjustment,” she says.
  • Accreditation “and all that goes with it” 
  • The curriculum approval process 
  • MCC Online initiatives and projects 
  • Assisting Chancellor Kimberly Beatty with MCC’s strategic vision and the College’s “Path Forward” 

“Working as the CAO allows me the opportunity to work closely with faculty leaders, which really appealed to me,” Gochis says. “I have always been passionate about the teaching and learning process, and being part of the academic leadership team at the district level is where I want to be.” 

She is a graduate of Blue Valley High School (“when there was only one”) who went on to Pittsburg State, earning a bachelor of science in education: psychology major with a teaching minor in math. She also has a master of science in higher education from Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas. 

She spent a chunk of her career, 1995-2012, at Cowley College in Arkansas City, Kansas, initially as a full-time algebra instructor and assistant volleyball coach. She went on to serve there as TRIO grant director, admissions director, dean of student life and vice president of student affairs. From 2013-2017 she was executive dean of student success at Lake Tahoe Community College in California. 

Gochis is thrilled — “Sue-per excited,” as she puts it — to be back in the Midwest. Most of her extended family live in the Kansas City area. She has four children and two grandchildren. These days Gochis and her husband, Pete, share their home with a “very large” rescue dog named Zeus. She describes herself as an avid outdoorswoman who’s also passionate about sports — watching and participating. 

“Once people start to work with me and get to know me, I hope they will discover that I have an informal but energetic style,” she says. “I like to work hard but also have fun in the process. The end goal is important, but I’m learning that the journey to get there is just as important.”