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Meet the Dean, Tosca Harris Takes on PTK

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Meet the Dean, Tosca Harris Takes on PTK

Tosca Harris, Dean of the Iola Campus and Fall 2018 PTK Adviser poses for a photo in the Allen Community College Library.

Tosca Harris, Dean of the Iola Campus and Fall 2018 PTK Adviser poses for a photo in the Allen Community College Library.

Lindsey Temaat

Tosca Harris, Dean of the Iola Campus and Fall 2018 PTK Adviser poses for a photo in the Allen Community College Library.

Lindsey Temaat

Lindsey Temaat

Tosca Harris, Dean of the Iola Campus and Fall 2018 PTK Adviser poses for a photo in the Allen Community College Library.

Lindsey Temaat, Managing Editor

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Tosca Harris, the dean for the Iola Campus at Allen Community College, stepped into a new role as one of the Phi Theta Kappa advisers last year, which allowed her more opportunities to interact with students.

This semester, the reins of PTK have been turned over to co-advisers Nikki Peters and Tera Shultz; however, Harris’ philosophy for communicating with students hasn’t changed.

“I want students to know more than anything that they can come talk to me about anything, good, bad or indifferent,” Harris said. “I would like to get to know them as human beings.”

Born and raised in the small town of Poteau, Okla., her first job brought her to Kansas, and Allen. Harris started working at the college in 1986 teaching English and journalism and advising the yearbook and newspaper.  

I want the students to know more than anything that they can come talk to me about anythin; good, bad, or indifferent.”

— Tosca Harris

“My first job was at Allen Community College. I was in Walt Regehr’s office in B-35; we had Macintosh computers in there. It was a real journalism room,” said Harris. “At that time our newspaper went out in the Iola Register once a month.”

Harris also remarked that she was glad to see the journalism department come full circle during her time with the college.

A KNOWN SCHOLAR, Harris holds several ,including an associate of arts from Carl Albert State University in Poteau, Okla., a bachelor of fine arts degree in theater from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University at San Marcos), a master’s degree in communication from Northeastern State University, in addition to another 20 hours from the University of Oklahoma in communication.  

Harris went on to work at Redlands Community College in Oklahoma as the PTK adviser for three years and then at Neosho Community College for 11 years as the Liberal Arts Division chair, debate coach, and PTK adviser before returning to Allen as the dean for the Iola Campus in 2011.

“I felt like I was coming home when I came back to Allen,” Harris said with a smile.

Harris enjoyed participating in an escape room problem solving activity with a few members of Allen’s PTK chapter in Manhattan, Kan. in the fall of 2018.

HARRIS FIRST became involved with PTK when she formed a PTK chapter at her community college before graduating that same semester. However, first job as a Phi Theta Kappa adviser was at Redlands in Oklahoma.

She used that experience last fall when she stepped in with Chandi Leis to lead PTK here after previous adviser Tracy Lee stepped down. Harris also noted Allen’s chapter shines above many others.

The Tau Eta Chapter at Allen has become increasingly more involved in the community, which according to Harris is not common of most PTK chapters.

“The thing I’m liking the most right now that I’m seeing this PTK chapter do that I have not seen other chapters do is the collaboration with the community efforts,” said Harris. “Working with Thrive for the La Harpe Clean-Up… Working with the grade schools. They are getting PTK off campus and out into the community. That’s big. That’s new. That’s something we can write, and hopefully maybe even win awards for.”

Lindsey Temaat
Allen Community College President John Masterson, PTK Tau Eta Chapter President Imani Lemon, Fall 2018 PTK Adviser Chandi Leis, Harris, PTK Officer Raul Sanchez, and Vice President for Academic Affairs, John Marshall at the PTK induction ceremony last November.

AT ALLEN, HARRIS is responsible for supervising the faculty and the fitness center with Vince Degrado, as well as the Writing Center, retention specialist, and all of the non-athletic activities. She works closely with both the dean of Online Learning and the dean of the Burlingame Campus. Additionally, Harris works with maintenance to make sure the college is pristine.

“I love Allen,” said Harris. “I have worked at about five different colleges during my 30-something-year career. There is an atmosphere here that doesn’t exist everywhere. It’s among faculty, staff, students, administration, all of the different groups. There is not the contention between academics and athletics that I have seen at other schools; that doesn’t exist here.That’s not to knock the other schools; they are good schools, but there is just something about the atmosphere here that makes it worthwhile to stay.”

When Harris isn’t at work she can be found enjoying the outdoors, hiking, or talking to one of her three grown children that now live in different parts of the country. Theater runs in her blood; in fact, she was in a play, directed by her aunt, at just 5 years old. Her unique name is even a nod to the arts.

“My name is an opera and I do not sing,” laughed Harris, referencing the Puccini work Tosca, which inspired her first name.

Although she no longer performs, Harris said there was possibly one role that she would get back on stage for.

“If they ever do Wizard of Oz and I can audition to be the Wicked Witch of the West, I would be in theater again,” said Harris.

While students will no-doubt be keeping an eye on the Iola Community Theater lineup for Harris’ comeback, for now, they will just have to stick to seeing her smile light up the college’s hallways.

 

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Meet the Dean, Tosca Harris Takes on PTK