CNCC in Craig scores great fit for new vice president position |

CNCC in Craig scores great fit for new vice president position

Lauren Blair
Janell Oberlander, new Colorado Northwestern Community College Vice President for the Craig campus, completed her first full week on the job this week. Hailing originally from Gillette, Wyoming, and most recently from Rapid City, South Dakota, Oberlander brings a wealth of college administrative experience to the job.
Courtesy Photo

— Janell Oberlander may be new to Craig, but she’s no stranger to the rural West.

Born in a small town in Wyoming, the new vice president for Colorado Northwestern Community College’s Craig campus grew up a coal miner’s daughter. Years later, she is a seasoned college administrator who is now bringing her talents and passion to CNCC.

“I went to college, really truly, and never left,” Oberlander said. “My first job was resident hall desk clerk, so that’s where I started and have worked very hard to get where I’m at.”

Oberlander moved to Craig earlier this month with her husband and two daughters, age 10 and 16, from Rapid City, South Dakota. There she served as dean of student services at Western Dakota Technical Institute for 12 years, with experience also in career services, veterans services and as admissions coordinator.

“When we met we were very impressed with all of the candidates,” said CNCC Dean of Instruction Donna Theimer. “But, there was something about Janell that just felt like she would fit in with the community and fit in with the personality of the school and would bring something that wasn’t already here, so she stood out above the rest.”

The search took CNCC administrators nearly a year to complete, with two full rounds of applicants and interviews and a revision of the job description before the selection team felt confident they’d found the right person for the job.

“One could feel that this was a person of importance, and by the time we finished her interview, every person in the room was satisfied, and that’s very uncommon,” CNCC President Russell George said. “We were seeing a lot of intelligence, energy and articulation that was based in experience and knowledge. We had a sense that she was genuine and certainly a feel early on that she was a fit, and that’s usually what you look for finally in interviewing people.”

As vice president, Oberlander described her key roles for the college to be that of advocate, strategist and liaison to the community.

“Really, it is to be at the forefront and responsive to the needs of Craig because we are the community’s college,” Oberlander said.

While she gets settled into her new role and her new life in Craig, Oberlander is spending time getting to know the faculty, staff and programs at CNCC. Her next step will be to connect with community leaders from other Craig and Moffat County organizations and local businesses.

“What I’m hearing is people are interested in economic development — what’s the next step — and in coming together to make sure that Craig is a vibrant community,” Oberlander said. “So that’s going to be my main focus for the next couple months, is getting to know and getting embedded in the community.”

Oberlander brings her passion for education to a college that is brimming with possibilities and she is wasting no time diving right into the job.

“I believe education changes lives and I think that is very apparent here. I ‘ve heard some great student success stories,” Oberlander said. “Everybody here is just so excited for the future and boy, what a great place to be when you’ve got this energy behind you… I think Craig is a great place and there are some exciting things coming down the road that can benefit this community.”

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1794 or or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

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