Interview with Angelo Markantonakis, AVPAA of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College

Interview with Angelo Markantonakis, AVPAA of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College

Angelo Markantonakis is a graduate of the Syracuse City School District. He attended Bellevue Elementary, Shea Middle School, and Fowler High School. Angelo started his journey in higher education at St. Lawrence University as a HEOP (Higher Education Opportunity Program) participant/student. Angelo is a first generation college graduate, and obtained his Masters degree in Education with a concentration in Adult Education from Elmira College. He has worked within education in various capacities for fifteen years. In this time, he has gained expertise in several areas including retention, change management, admissions processes, program development, academic curriculum, student services and building community relationships.
Angelo currently resides in Kannapolis, North Carolina and is a loving father to two young men, Angelo and Dominic. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Susan. He attributes the foundation of his success to his loving mother and father, their sacrifices and work ethic during his childhood in the inner city of Syracuse, New York. Angelo is especially proud of his Greek heritage, and the opportunity to live in Greece as a child, where his father was the town butcher.

1.How did you get started in your career as a College Administrator?

All I ever wanted to do was be a coach.  The most influential people in my formative years were my mother and father and my football, wrestling and lacrosse coaches growing up.  I was blessed with an opportunity to attend St. Lawrence University as a HEOP (Higher Education Opportunity Program) student.  Once I completed my degree and started working, I realized I needed to add to my skill sets as the mortgage, lights and feeding a small family started to add to my identity as a husband, father and son.  I was blessed to have a supportive wife.  While working full time, I took my graduate courses one at a time to complete my Masters in Education with a concentration in Adult Education.  During my education, technology made a roar into academic curriculum with components such as hybrid and online education.  As a one-time traditional student I found myself in a situation where I was learning how to relearn.  Once I realized that this process was happening to so many in the workforce that are impacted by change I was bitten by the academia bug.

2.What do you think are some of the leadership qualities an effective College Leader should have?

Understand the principles and approach of servant leadership and lateral leadership.  Come to the decision making process with an understanding that decisions must have a holistic approach.  Stay open minded.  A trick that I use and find effective is to ask the question: “If we wanted “X” to be the best or most impactful thing “X” could be… What would that look like?”  Adding this questioning technique has added pieces and partnerships to leading that I have found to be very beneficial.

3. Business is constantly changing, what types of things is your college doing to make sure students are learning the most updated business information?

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College was named as one of the 2014-2015 Top Ten Digital Community Colleges by the Center for Digital Education for its use of digital technologies to improve services for students, faculty, staff and the community.  Having this type of impact in the local community offers a larger reach and opportunities for students and business.  Relative small business, at the Cabarrus Business and Technology Center in Concord, North Carolina Rowan Cabarrus Community College has the Small Business Resource Center.  It is a great place to stop by and pick up a book or other resource where titles on entrepreneurship, management and leadership, sales and marketing, HR, customer service, business start-up are available.

One of the most exciting areas of opportunity for the College has been building out Career and Technical Education Pathways for our local high schools.  The most recent pathways being Welding, Nurse Aide and Biotechnology.  With staying updated on our communities trends and partnering with our local high schools the College is weaved into the fabric of the communities needs and new business changes.

Having a Work Based Learning program has also been an amazing opportunity for our students.  Allowing for resume building, interviews skills and internship opportunities.  We have an exceptional rapport with our local businesses and community that we serve.

4. Faculty play a critical role in the development of your student’s learning and in helping build their business competencies. What type of things are your faculty involved in and doing that makes their classroom unique to the student’s learning experience?

One of the driving factors as a College Administrator is having not only faculty with business and life experiences to add to the classroom, but having the proper educational level credential within the learning discipline.  It allows for a well-rounded course and lecture that can be very interactive and engaging for both instructor and student. Our instructors use a collaborative learning approach with a global perspective.

Angelo Markantonakis, AVPAA of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College

5.What type of qualifications and experiences do your faculty bring to the class? How do you make sure they stay updated in their area of expertise and field of study?

We have no faculty that are justified at the college.  One of the exciting components to our business program is that we ask our students about what their passion is.  It creates a solid foundational understanding of how to relate course content between the faculty and student.  In regard to staying updated, our full time faculty shares all information with our adjunct instructors and our business program is active in World View and organization out of Chapel Hill.

6. Do your students have input on faculty promotion, award and recognition program? If so, can you expand on this and provide examples?

Excellence in Teaching: is an extensive process.  I am currently a member of the review committee and I am fascinated by the passion and lengths our faculty will go to, to make an impact on their students which snowballs into a true ripple of change within our community.

7.There has been a lot of conversation happening in the last few years on the purpose of community college education. What do you believe community colleges should offer/provide to its students?

This is a layered question and response from me.  My initial response is a holistic approach.  The servant leader in me, wants to say: to offer and provide opportunities in a way that will make our students engaged, our faculty excited and our community gaining a skilled, credentialed and educated population.

Considering my Greek-American first generation heritage, my father’s response (Vasilios the Butcher) would be that “the world also needs good broom sweepers or bread makers and to be the best broom sweeper / bread maker your employer ever saw.”

I believe in the mission and vision statements of Rowan Cabarrus Community College:

“Rowan-Cabarrus improves lives and builds community through public higher education and workforce development.”

and the college’s vision statement, which is:

“Building sustainable futures through the power of learning.”


8. Almost every institution is going online or trying to offer online degree programs. What is your college doing in the online space and how do you set yourself apart?

We provide Quality Matters course content. The Quality Matters (QM) program is a national benchmark for online course design. The QM process is a collegial, faculty-driven, research-based peer review process based on a rubric. The standards within the rubric are nationally recognized reflecting quality in online and hybrid course design.  This process allows for the College to practice a higher standard of course content.

Rowan-Cabarrus offers nine degrees that you can complete entirely online, including the transferable two-year Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degrees – not to mention the seven diplomas and 43 certificates students can earn entirely online. The College’s online courses and online faculty have won national awards and undergo a rigorous training and review process to ensure they are ready for students.

The College is also continuing their efforts in their ever-expanding courses offered online. In 2015, 54 percent of courses that the College offered were online or hybrid (mostly online with few on-campus classes), and 36 percent of all courses were completely online. Online tutoring for students is available in many subjects 24 hours a day and seven days a week, as is the College’s IT help desk, through a partnership with Blackboard. Other digital initiatives include introducing online textbooks to many of the College’s core and elective classes, online job preparation and searching resources, social media and electronic emergency notifications systems.

9. What do you think are some of the biggest challenges that community colleges are facing now and what is your college and business programs doing to confront them?

I feel this question has two layers.  The first layer being that community colleges need to be able to gauge times of growth and times of lower enrollment.  Being able to buildout succession models and cross functional teams that will encompass strong admissions/relationship building principles and then foster the needed advising processes and procedures to make the student experience solid and manageable.

The second part being the need for community colleges in a position to understand what is consistently needed for current program reviews, needed components for accreditation and what the next program to serve the community will be.  A focused pulse that weaves into the fabric of the community and understands what new programs will assist with employment opportunities and personal growth.

10. We learned a great deal about you and your college. If I was a potential student or employer that was stuck between choosing two different associate degree programs in business, what other things would you want me to know about your degree and school to help with my selection?

The word I find myself using the most to describe about the Faculty and Staff at my college is “PASSION”.  We take a personal interest and approach to how we treat our students from the moment they show interest as well as within the application/enrollment process.  In regard to our business program, we offer four associate degrees.  (General, Human Resources, International Business and Marketing) The Curriculum will introduce students to fundamental knowledge that will help them understand business organizations.  Courses such as business law, economics, accounting and marketing will put them in team building and decision making scenarios that will provide lifelong learning and a base in business fundamentals.