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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA South dean James Shockey steps down, Melody Buckner steps in

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View of the UA South campus in Sierra Vista, Arizona. James Shockey, dean of UA South has stepped down to focus on cyber security at the college.

Dean James Shockey will step down from UA South, effective Sept. 18, to focus on cyber security. Shockey served for over 30 years as a member of UA faculty and as dean for the past six years.

Melody Buckner, director of digital learning and online education, will take over as interim dean for the next year. For Buckner, her appointment came as a surprise.

“I was a little shocked that they would ask me,” Buckner said. “I saw it as a challenge for me.”

Buckner has been with the UA since 2008 and has been involved with UA South since then. Before her time at the university, Buckner held a position as an instructional designer in professional development and adjunct faculty at Pima Community College.

Buckner, who will retain her position as director for digital learning in her new role, said her understanding of the UA should help with the jump to leadership.

“I’m pretty familiar with [the] intricacies and all of the processes that go on at UA South,” Buckner said. “It’s definitely a step up. I’m not going to be a full dean, I’m going to step up and help prepare the campus to go out for a search for a new dean.”

Buckner said that her main purpose as interim dean is not to create immediate changes for the campus so much as it is to help the campus move forward. She said she wants to help fine-tune the campus’s vision to reflect what the campus wants.

“Having ties to the campus help put me in a good position to help the folks at UA South realize their direction and their vision as we search for new leadership,” Buckner said. “What I want to do is facilitate people to think about where they want to be in five years.”

To help her establish a campus vision, UA South put together an interim executive leadership team. Jen Meyers Pickard, assistant vice president of divisional initiatives and planning, said her purpose as a member of the leadership team is to support Buckner during her time as interim dean and to gain insight from Melissa Vito, senior vice president of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management and senior vice provost of Academic Initiatives & Student Success.

“I’m trying to help in whatever way I can as the person who is more permanently located on the main campus,” Pickard said. “I work directly under Melissa Vito, so to help let her know when things are happening [at UA South] or to get her input as needed.”

Pickard said one of the goals of the leadership team is to get the campus ready for the dean search that will launch this January 2017. The leadership team plans to work towards creating an “identity” for UA South to sell to the nation in the search for a dean.

“That’s the idea, of engaging and exploration of the relationships between UA South, UA Main and our distant locations all across Arizona, and be able to come out with a very unique identity for UA South,” Pickard said. “So, we are just trying to define that a little bit more.”

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