Randy Daniels never meant to stay here.
The vice president of Student and Information Services started at MCCC 20 years ago to get some experience. He planned to leave and not come back, but he never left.
As he talks about his life, time seems to melt away. He mentions his family, his favorite books and places, and how he ended up at MCCC.
The 54-year old said his job description is simple.
“To make sure that every student receives the support and guidance that they need to be successful at Monroe County Community College,” he said.
He added that he has plenty of good days.
“I’ve had a lot of best days,” he smiled. “My best days are categorized by student success.”
He’s had bad days, too.
“I’m the one that has to administer the code of conduct and therefore have to discipline students, and that’s not fun,” he said.
Daniels started college with plans to be an attorney, but his plans soon changed.
“My sophomore year I took an introduction to psychology class and the professor was phenomenal and I became so intrigued by psychology that I changed my major,” he said.
After getting his bachelor’s degree, he began substitute teaching at an elementary school and fell head over heels for it. He got a teaching certificate and began teaching at a Catholic school before landing at Mason High School in Erie.
While there, he taught elementary school for eight years, coached football and baseball, got his master’s degree in guidance and counseling, and became a counselor. He eventually started working as a part-time counselor at MCCC.
When the job of full-time director of Admissions at the college opened, Daniels took it to get some administration experience. His goal was to become an elementary school principal.
Time passed, and he fell in love with MCCC and its students. When the vice president position opened in 2005, he accepted it.
He also has other kinds of bad days.
“The other aspect of my job that’s not so much fun is being the person who has to determine whether we open late or close for inclement weather, which means going out at four o’clock in the morning in the snow, sleet, and ice to determine whether the roads are passable or not,” he laughs.
Daniels recalls the time a person commented on the fact that he drives a four-wheel drive truck and told him he didn’t know what it felt like to drive in bad conditions in a small car.
Daniels decided to do something about this and ended up taking the family car out for a drive to decide how bad road conditions were. He got stuck in less than a mile and had to get one of his three daughters to come and get him.
“We closed that day, by the way,” he chuckled.
Aside from his job at MCCC, Daniels teaches a senior undergraduate seminar for students completing their bachelor’s degree and a graduate course for Sienna Heights University.
While talking about his future, he said he plans to continue to teach and doesn’t have any specific goals in terms of where he wants to go from where he is now.
“To leave here for another job, it would have to be the ultimate position to cap my career,” Daniels said.
Daniels was recently part of a task force created by college President Kojo Quartey to recruit and retain students. The task force put into place a strategic enrollment plan for 2015 to 2018.
“For all community colleges nationally, there’s a push for certificate or degree completion, so the overall goal, I believe, for the Strategic Enrollment Management Plan is to help students accomplish the goal that they came here to achieve,” he said.
Daniels spends quite a bit of time with his three daughters and wife and obviously adores them. It’s while talking about them that his personality really begins to show.
Daniel’s daughter, Ashley Daniels, works in the Sienna Heights office on campus.
She talked about one of her favorite memories of her father. She explained she had gone to college in Arizona and had been apart from him for nearly five months.
The family was going on vacation to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, but her father couldn’t join them until later in the week. He came early and walked into the restaurant where they were having dinner to surprise them.
“Not seeing him for almost five months was really difficult for me and so when he showed up at that restaurant, it meant the world to me,” Ashley said.
She said her mother’s a nurse who often had to work before Ashley and her sisters had to get up for school, meaning the task of getting them up was left to their father.
She said her father learned to do their hair and would tell them not to touch it on picture day.
Penny Bodell, Daniel’s assistant, talked about Daniel’s passion for education and devotion to helping students.
“He works very hard for the students at this college and if there’s ever a student in need, he will do everything he can to help them,” Bodell said.
This was reiterated by Director of Admissions Mark Hall.
“He is one of the biggest student advocates at Monroe County Community College,” Hall said.
Daniels said his favorite book is the children’s story, “Frederick” by Leo Lionni. It’s about a mouse called Frederick who stores up words as the mice around him store up food for winter. In the middle of winter, when the mice are cold and hungry, Frederick chases their blues away by spinning stories of sunshine and flowers.
Daniels said he read “Frederick” to his elementary classes and continues to do so when he’s a guest speaker.
“I was intrigued by the book because it’s a great story to tell and really because Frederick is a storyteller,” Daniels said.
“Of course, I read grown-up books too, but that one came to mind,” he added.
Daniels is known as a storyteller and for good reason. While going through a few good books and mementos of teaching days, he brings out a title that was given to him by a colleague. The tile depicts a group of children around an adult and is called, “The Storyteller.”
Daniels is a storyteller who fell in love with MCCC and spent his time here working to see students succeed.
Quartey summed up Daniels’ role at the college.
“He’s a good man, hard-working, dedicated. He’s committed to his job here and especially to the students of MCCC.”