Wendy Robinson brings dedication and experience to her new role at Inver Hills
Wendy Robinson, Ph.D., discovered her passion for academia, student affairs in particular, as a work-study in admissions at Calvin College. She clicked with the task of helping other students transition to college life, an experience she recognized as incredibly transformative.
“I was a first-generation college student,” Wendy said. “I knew that finding the right college is one of your first big life decisions. You are taking a risk by placing so much trust in the college you choose. I really liked the idea of making sure that trust was rewarded. I fell in love with the process.”
Originally from Tuscon, Arizona, Wendy graduated from Calvin, a liberal arts college in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with a Bachelor of Arts in History. Knowing early on history wasn’t her career path, she transferred to the University of Arizona, earning her Master of Arts in Higher Education/Higher Education Administration. She went on to earn a Doctorate in Higher Education from Iowa State University.
Before arriving at Inver Hills Community College as the college’s new vice president of student affairs, Wendy served as director of student services for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. Before Minnesota State, she was director of student development for more than three and a half years at Des Moines Area Community College, overseeing advising, campus health, career services, counseling and more on DMACC’s six campuses and various centers.
“When I first saw Inver Hills, I really liked the campus,” Wendy said. “I just knew Inver and I were a good fit. I knew I could make a positive impact.”
Wendy added that she is impressed by how Inver excels as a community college with something to offer to just about everyone:
- Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree with nine emphasis areas for students who know they are transferring to a four-year school
- A superb, affordable, student-friendly, hands-on, relevant and transferable college education for recent high school graduates
- ASAP, or Adult Success through Accelerated Programs, for individuals in mid-career seeking professional development or a career change
- PSEO, Post Secondary Enrollment Options, for high-achieving high school students looking to get a jump on their college careers
- Full-service student support that includes:
Wendy reported that one of her main roles in Student Affairs is keeping the best interests of students front and center when crafting policies and making decisions. She also makes sure Inver Hills meets new students where they are and focuses on helping them grow.
“College life isn’t just what happens in the classroom,” she said. “As a college, we have to give students the tools they need for success—and that means not only knowing what we do well as an institution, but also what we can do better.”
Wendy enjoys the diversity she finds in her job—every day is different. She also enjoys the behind-the-scenes, big-picture duties of a college administrator, one who grew up understanding the life-changing importance of higher education.
“I came from a family without a lot of resources,” she said. “I didn’t have the support system that said going to college was a given. When I arrived at Calvin, I didn’t have a sense of belonging and I had to work hard to build my confidence.”
She credits much of her success to several mentors who helped her harness her potential and encouraged her to pursue advanced degrees. Having the opportunity to give back to so many students through her new VP position in Student Affairs is engaging, exciting and rewarding.
What has been your toughest challenge in life?
Finding the confidence to succeed in college.
What is the most interesting or exciting thing you’ve ever done?
I took a leave from grad school and taught English to students in Seoul, South Korea. I learned a lot about myself navigating a foreign land on my own without knowing the language. The students I taught were ages 4–17, which confirmed my desire to work with college students.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Finding the perfect balance between career, education and family life.
What person has influenced you the most in life?
Randal Jelks, my history professor at Calvin; when I was completing my doctoral dissertation, I phoned Professor Jelks for guidance and he was happy to help.
Three words that describe you as a person: Busy. Caring. Funny.
Wendy resides in St. Paul with her husband, Michael, a professional writer and stay-at-home dad, son, Miles, 8, and daughter, Evelyn, 4. The couple has two older sons, Brennen, 25, and Malcolm, 22. Wendy’s pastimes include competing in triathlons and freelance writing.
- Favorite season: Fall
- Your national bird if you could have one: Flamingo
- Place you would most like to visit: The Netherlands
- Favorite holiday: Christmas
- Your personal motto if you had to have one: “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” — Dolly Parton
- Coolest thing you’ve seen in the world: Grand Canyon
- Scariest thing you’ve seen in the world: Comment section on many online news blogs
- One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Campsite rule: Leave things better than you found them.
- Most precious material possession: iPhone
- Person you would most like to meet: President Barack Obama (and First Lady Michelle Obama)
- Skill you would most like to learn and master: Become fluent in Spanish
- Humankind’s greatest challenge: People learning how to treat each other as neighbors
To learn more about Inver Hills Community College, contact: