Board of Regents discuss new administrators, culinary program

A new dean and vice president, Lubbock Center construction progress, and details on the upcoming Culinary Arts program were among the topics discussed during the September meeting of the South Plains College Board of Regents.

Dr. Stan DeMerritt—who served, up until recently—as the Dean of Students, was introduced to the Board as the new vice president for student affairs. Prior to his arrival at SPC, he worked as the registrar at Wayland Baptist University before serving as assistant vice president of Academic Affairs.

Dr. DeMerritt then announced that a new dean of students has been hired to fill his previous post. Dr. Lynne Cleavinger, who currently holds the position of director of student health and wellness at SPC, will assume the new position on Sept. 15.

This announcement means the search has begun for a new director for student health and wellness, though Dr. Cleavinger will temporarily be holding both positions until a new director is hired.

“She really truly believes in the mission of the college and the way that I’m trying to move our department,” Dr. Demerrit said of Dr. Cleavinger. “And that’s by the Golden Rule. It’s ‘treat others the way we want to be treated,’ not ‘treat others the way we have been treated.’”

Dr. Ryan Gibbs, vice president of academic affairs, also presented to the Board a 3-D model flythrough of the new Culinary Arts facility, which will be housed in the new Lubbock Center campus. It is expected to be finished in 2018.

“This is a perfect environment to start teaching these students what it’s going to be like in the real world when they get out in a professional kitchen,” said Dr. Gibbs. “There’s not another one that will rival what we have.”

The state-of-the-art space includes four hands-on baking labs and a meat cutting lab. Other features include smart projector walls that can be easily written on and washed, a storefront bistro where students can sell the food they make in their classes, and open walls and glass panels that allow students to see nearly all the way through the building.

“Our consultant who designed this for us, he calls it the ‘theatre of food,’” said Dr. Gibbs about the open nature of the floor plan. “And cooking is an art form.”

Dr. Robin Satterwhite, president of South Plains College, reported that the Lubbock Center ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the official opening of the campus is slated for Sept. 26, 2017, beginning at 10 a.m. The entire project, when completed, is expected to come in around $200,000 under budget, out of a total of $2.1 million donated for the project.

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