New dean takes the helm at Sierra College’s Truckee campus |

New dean takes the helm at Sierra College’s Truckee campus

Photo by Ryan Salm/Sierra SunRick Rantz (center) looks at a school schedule with students Reyna Munoz and Dennis Spaniol at Sierra College's Truckee campus. Rantz is starting his first year as dean of the junior college campus.

As the new dean of Sierra College’s Truckee campus, Rick Rantz is walking into a position with plenty of opportunity: a growing junior college and a new campus that is only in the design phase.

Rantz replaced Frank DeCourten, who is now the interim vice president of educational programs at Sierra College’s Rocklin campus. As the head of the Truckee campus, Rantz will have the opportunity to grow community college’s programs, especially in the future, thanks to Measure H, the successful $35 million bond measure that will provide the funds for a new Sierra College campus on McIver Hill in Truckee.

“We are really going to be focusing on community education and lifelong learning courses ” classes that don’t count for credit but are meant for personal enrichment,” Rantz said.

Rantz, who was the director of the Chester campus of Feather River College in Chester, Calif., brings a wealth of diverse experience to Truckee’s Sierra College campus.

He has taught primary education in the United States, Argentina and Ecuador, focusing on art and languages, as well as educational development programs and higher education administration here and abroad. He has spent time in Thailand and China exchanging ideas with foreign university administrators to get a better understanding of educational programs worldwide.

With knowledge of primary, secondary and post-secondary educational systems, Rantz is hoping to implement new programs and associate degree opportunities at Sierra College, as there is now more room for improvement with the building of new campus facilities.

“We are trying to identify and be sensitive to the needs of the community,” Rantz said. “Our associate of arts and associate of science degree programs will be expanding, and by developing partnerships with other community colleges, we can offer more programs and be more successful.”

Currently in the works at Sierra College is a new two-year outdoor recreation management program that will allow students to learn about the hospitality and leisure industries, and earn an associate of arts or vocational certificate.

“This has really become a destination area ” the new Vail-Aspen of the West Coast. Places like the Resort at Squaw Creek, for example, need trained people,” said John Volek, Dean of Physical Education, Recreation Management, and Health at Sierra College’s Rocklin campus.

Rantz said he is optimistic about the new program and hopes that it will draw students from South American countries, noting Truckee’s growing Brazilian, Chilean and Argentinean populations.

Sierra College currently awards more associate degrees than any other community college in the state, said Rantz.

“I want to focus on keeping students and getting them through the system, while working with professors to develop relationships,” he said.

Rantz is also the president of the Celidon Foundation, an environmental education nonprofit that has partnered with the Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots and Shoots program in Costa Rica to establish earth-focus schools around the world that will feed into a planned University for Sustainable Future.

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