Her improvements have been big and small but always steady through the years, according to some of her colleagues she is an unsung hero here at the College of Charleston.
When Dean Powers began her career in education as a math teacher it was out of her pure love for helping students learn. While her job has changed and she has been given more responsibilities throughout her career, helping students has remained her primary objective. "My priority and goal has always been to improve the learning of students," Powers said. "I will always love to teach."
Originally from Ohio, Powers moved with her husband to South Carolina in 1973. She worked at Trident Technical College for a year before joining C of C's Department of Mathematics. During her years of teaching she helped found the College of Charleston Math Meet in 1978 which remains a popular annual event, bringing together top high school students to campus from around the state and region.
In 1984, Powers was appointed assistant dean of the Office of Undergraduate Studies. Prior to this, she did not realize her draw towards the administrative side of education. She became the dean of undergraduate studies a few years later and has remained there since.
"I was always interested in improving the way we teach students and developing programs for helping them outside the classroom," she said. "It never occurred to me that these fell under administrative duties and that I would be in a better position to enact some of these changes."
Many students at the College of Charleston are familiar with her work as undergraduate dean whether or not they realize it. Year after year students entering the College of Charleston first familiarize themselves with the school during the Orientation Program. And every year students frequent the Student Advising Center to seek help in choosing a major, signing up for classes, etc.
As undergraduate dean she has initiated and/or reinvented many services that address the recruitment and retention of the students. A few examples include as mentioned before the Orientation Program and Student Advising Center as well as Freshman Seminar, Readmit Workshop, and Missing Student memos. She has integrated the use of technology in all the activities of the office and has led the campus in upgrading and increasing communication with students and parents through better use of technology.
Powers still finds time to be involved in many organizations. She is a member of the board of directors for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), the world's largest mathematics education organization, which is designed to support teachers in ensuring mathematics learning of the highest quality for all students. She also writes math problems for MATHCOUNTS which is a national math enrichment, coaching and competition program that promotes middle school mathematics achievement through grassroots involvement in every U.S. state and territory.
She also finds time for volunteer work which she believes is very important and enjoys volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. "I've always thought that volunteer work is extremely important, it makes you feel better," she said.
When she is not at work or involved with one of her many obligations, Powers enjoys spending time with her two young grandchildren whose pictures fill her office. She also fills her spare time with her favorite hobby- quilting. She has become very talented at making quilts, giving them away as gifts to friends and family and teaching it as well. Her webpage on the undergraduate studies page is filled with beautiful samples of her work.
No matter what her time may be filled with, Dean Sandra Powers always has the students of the College of Charleston in her heart.