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William C. Bonaudi Library's Down the Research Rabbit Hole | Issue 13 | Dr. Bryce Humpherys, Vice President of Learning & Student Success | Driving

by Rhonda Kitchens on 2021-03-09T17:13:00-08:00 | 0 Comments



Down the Research Rabiit Hole with Dr. Bryce Humpherys William C. Bonaudi Library




You have a great love of horses. How do you keep up with this passion in terms of research and news? 


Ever since I was a child I have loved horses and dreamed of both riding and driving them.  I bought my first horse when I was in high school but had to sell her when I was in college.  Years later I was able to buy some horses and began to learn how to drive them.  However, I did not know anyone nearby who could teach me how to drive a horse.  Then I discovered some books written by Lynn R. Miller.  He is an artist and author from Oregon who has written several books about driving horses and farming with horses.  His books were exactly what I needed and I bought several of them including Work Horse Handbook and Training Workhorses / Training Teamsters.  They are excellent resources for horse training and handling as well as driving and horse farming that I still enjoy referencing.

Bryce Humphries With Workhorses


What did you learn working on bringing the Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) in Applied Management ​program to Big Bend Community College? Did it change any of your processes or approaches?

Like many of the projects in which I have had the opportunity to participate professionally, I am learning a great deal from this one.  I love to learn new things, which makes projects like the BAS enjoyable.  I have learned a great deal about how to determine the need for a bachelor’s degree, secure approval, and prepare to implement it.  Because this is the first bachelor degree that Big Bend will offer, there are some additional steps we need to take such as securing permission from our accrediting body to offer a four-year degree instead of just two-year degrees.  In addition, we were successful in securing a federal grant to cover the cost of implementing the program.  It has been a fun challenge to figure out how to address each step in this process.  As with any large and complicated project, I am learning and relearning the importance of setting a goal, planning out the details of how to achieve that goal, and then working the plan to accomplish the goal.  Another big takeaway from this project is to give adequate time to accomplish the goal.  We didn’t try to rush the implementation and, as a result, the process has been fairly smooth thus far.

A quote from Dr. Bryce Humpherys on success.


You have read and researched exhaustively on student success.  As you read these studies, could you see more clearly what made you more successful or in some cases, not successful, academically?

That is an interesting question, and yes, I can identify at least three main things that helped me succeed academically.  

The first, and I think most important thing, is reading.  My parents had a home full of books and promoted reading with all their children.  Sometime in my early elementary school years, I became an avid reader.  My third-grade teacher told my mother that I was the only student she had to tell to STOP reading because I would sometimes be reading a book instead of doing my schoolwork in class!  I loved to visit the library and find new things to read (and still do).  Developing strong reading skills helped me succeed academically in K-12 and my university studies. 

The second thing that really helped me succeed academically, was that at each level of my postsecondary studies I found something that really engaged me academically, which motivated me to succeed.  In my early college years, it was social and ballroom dancing.  Later it was learning about the history and culture of the Southwestern United States.  Even later it was learning about Mexican history and society as well as the Spanish language. 

Finally, it was about educational theory and practices.  Having a strong interest in something I was studying was a very strong motivator.  The third thing that helped me be successful was that in each step of my development as a learner, I was always able to find someone who had been down the path before me and could serve as a mentor, guide, and advocate for me.  As a student, they were some of my teachers and professors who gave me opportunities I would never have had otherwise.  I still aspire to do for others what they did for me. 

Is there a journal, website, or group you keep up with to keep your work skills sharp?

There are two groups that help me keep my work skills sharp. 

The first is a statewide group of peers who hold similar administrative positions at community and technical colleges across the state.  I meet with them regularly and always learn something from the amazing work they are doing at their institutions. 

The second is my involvement as a peer evaluator with our institutional accrediting body, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).  As an evaluator, I have the opportunity to visit other institutions of higher education and see first-hand the incredible work they do.  I learn so much from these visits as I see colleagues at other schools engaged in the same struggle that we have at Big Bend to continuously improve in our efforts to provide quality education to our students.

Image of Dr. Bryce Humphries with his working horses pulling wagon and his family.

What book, poem, or study have you read that engaged you so deeply you were changed?

A book that really influenced my professional practice from the beginning of my career is What Works:  Research-Based Best Practices in Developmental Education by Hunter R. Boylan.  For many years Dr. Boylan was the director for the National Center for Developmental Education at Appalachian State University and his book was a summary of the research he and others had done in the prior decade.  I discovered the book early in my career in higher education as I wrestled with questions around how to help academically underprepared college students succeed in their classes, persist, and ultimately graduate.  I worked with faculty and staff peers to revise curriculum and implement changes that we hoped would help students succeed and then sought to collect the data that would tell us if our efforts had the intended impact or not.  Reading the book and my initial efforts at implementing some of the practices it described, ignited a passion in me of focusing my professional work on trying to support students who are first-generation college students, academically underprepared, and/or those who face significant challenges in obtaining a postsecondary education.  I have followed this passion throughout my career and continue to do so today.

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