Former adjunct Danna tapped as new branch dean
Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 19:09
Stephen Danna has been named the new dean of Plattsburgh State’s Branch Campus at Queensbury.
Danna, who received a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s in oceanography, did not start out in education. He worked as an oceanographer for the Navy until he discovered teaching when he was asked to talk about oceanography to a group of middle school children in Bay St. Louis, Miss.
He said he began his teaching career at St. Mary’s Academy in Glens Falls, teaching science classes and, eventually, moving up into administration.
Danna said he worked at the middle school level for about 25 years before he decided to move to the college level, where he took a job as an adjunct lecturer.
He said he liked the idea of the college environment and giving back at the post-secondary level.
“It was very interesting to me,” Danna said.
When he heard about the dean position opening, he said he jumped on the opportunity.
“This is my shot,” Danna said. “Windows open, but they close just as fast.”
He said the application process was long. Danna had to gather a list of accomplishments that would interest the search committee, and he had to find letters of recommendation.
Danna was interviewed several times during the application process.
He said his first interview was made up of administrators from both the branch and main campuses and was conducted on the phone, which he said he found to be strange because he could not see others’ facial expressions.
The second interview took place in person and involved administrators from the branch campus. A tour of the campus followed the interview.
A third interview was comprised of as many branch-campus staff-members as could make it.
Danna then had to drive to PSUC’s main campus, where he had another interview, a tour of the campus and a meeting with Provost James Liszka.
Liszka said Danna has quite a reputation as both a teacher and an administrator, and he sensed a lot of good qualities when Danna walked into his office.
“I think he has a lot of connections in the State Department of Education, and he has been very successful at getting grants,” Liszka said. “We’re looking forward to his leadership down there.
“We’re awfully glad he took the position.”
Danna said he had to wait four to six weeks before he heard anything about the job, but when he did, he was thrilled.
Danna said there are some changes he hopes to make to the branch campus. Because he has his expertise in teaching and administration, he said he hopes to start a teacher-leadership certificate.
Additionally, Danna said Dean of Education, Health and Human Services Michael Morgan has committed to extending the nursing program at the branch campus. They plan to hire one full-time nursing faculty position next year and another the year after.
Danna also said other deans are trying to grow their programs as well.
He said the faculty and staff are an important part of the campus and are kind and welcoming people. He said anybody who comes onto the branch campus immediately feels like a part of a family.
“We have the best professors and office staff,” Danna said.