As interim dean, Combs will cultivate industry partnerships
Seward County Community College has named Travis Combs as Interim Dean of Industrial Technology. Combs, who also serves as Director of Adult Basic Education at SCCC’s Colvin Adult Learning Center, will continue in both capacities for the remainder of the academic year.
“I’m excited about the opportunity, because it has a close relationship with what I do with adult education, and I’ve been working to transition students from the Colvin Center to postsecondary study at the college,” Combs said. “I’m excited to grow that partnership.”
Combs steps into the dean position after the departure of Larry McLemore, who served as department chair and then dean. McLemore recently accepted a dean position at Cuyamaca College, a community college in the San Diego area.
“Larry transitioned our industrial technology course and program delivery to an efficient and highly flexible model that meets the needs of our industry partners, high schools, and diverse student population,” said Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Todd Carter. “We hated to see him leave Seward and the state of Kansas, but wish him the best in his next professional endeavor.”
As the Industrial Technology division transitions with new leadership, Carter said, “Travis will continue the strong leadership we have had in the industrial technology division as interim dean. He is well-connected in the community and at the state level, and his adult education team is consistently recognized for high student success.”
Combs, a Liberal native and graduate of Liberal High School, SCCC, Kansas State University, and Southwestern College, is an elected member of the USD 480 School Board, President of Seward County United Way, and President of the Liberal Cinco de Mayo Board. Perhaps more meaningful to him is the warm relationships he has developed with students from all backgrounds at the Colvin Center. A high point of his career, he says, is the first time an international student, a Somali woman who had lived on four continents and survived civil war, upheaval, and culture shock told him, “You are my mentor, and SCCC is my family.”
Those personal connections transfer to strong institutional relationships.
“At SCCC, we really want to become the college of Southwest Kansas, and that relies on strong partnerships and connections that are relevant to industry at all levels, not just locally and regionally, but globally,” said SCCC President, Dr. Ken Trzaska. “Having a strong leader in place at the Industrial Technology division is key. Travis is someone who understands our environment, those expectations, and the bigger picture of how Seward fits into the wider world.”
Both Carter and Trzaska praised Combs’ leadership at the Colvin Center, which has been recognized as a top-performing adult education hub in the state of Kansas — no small feat, since Kansas leads the nation in effective career pathway education through the “Accelerating Opportunity” program that links GED students with professional certification programs.
For his part, Combs said he’s excited to tackle a new challenge, while still keeping an eye on success for the adult education students he has come to know and mentor through the Colvin Center.
“We’ve invested a lot of time and work in getting different areas of campus and the community working together,” Combs said. “With Career Tech Education in the high school, graduation equivalence completion, and then moving people on to higher education, it’s exciting to see all the pieces interlocking. I’m really excited to explore the possibilities for our students, and for the community.”
Combs, who once envisioned a career as a physician, and changed his focus to education after he successfully gained entry to medical school, understands the need for flexibility. He says it’s a hallmark of good education, because students need options that meet them at their point of need, and empower them to keep moving ahead.
“Success is success,” he said, “no matter how you get there.”
To contact Combs, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Office: (620)-417-1312 or (620)-417-1652