John Spevak: Former college dean leaves lasting legacy

By John SpevakJune 8, 2013 

She served as dean of the Los Banos campus of Merced College for 11 years. Then she served as the college's vice president of student personnel in Merced for eight years.

Before coming to Los Banos, she was the re-entry center director in Merced, then an intern dean of instruction. Now she's headed for retirement, at the end of this month.

Dr. Anne Newins has served Merced College with distinction for more than a quarter-century, and it was my privilege to have worked closely with her at the college for 16years.

Anne has been an exceptional leader in every management role she has assumed. Beneath her calm and patient personality is an intense determination to help students succeed.

She is a good listener, but when necessary she will speak up and hold her ground for the best interests of students and the college. And she has a wonderful sense of humor; she takes her job seriously, but not herself.

Anne will be missed; it's not that often that effective servant leaders like her come around.

She leaves many notable memories of her time as dean in Los Banos, where she built and nurtured a strong team of faculty and staff at the campus. Her deanship started in 1994 at the Mercey Springs Road campus, which consisted of modular buildings on 10 acres.

During her tenure, Merced College proposed a bond for the college to build a permanent campus on 120 acres along Pacheco Boulevard, donated by Larry and Georgeann Anderson.

While serving as the Los Banos Campus dean, Anne, during her off-hours, spent many hours coordinating the campaign supporting the bond (Measure J).

With the help of her husband, Jack, Anne made her home on Hillview Avenue the campaign's hub. She spearheaded the effort to put up signs, speak to local groups, call prospective voters, and walk door to door with campaign pamphlets.

Largely because of her leadership, the bond, needing 55 percent of the vote in the Los Banos/Dos Palos area, passed with more than a two-thirds majority,

Soon after the election results came in, Anne led a team of faculty and staff to work with other college administrators and architects from Lionakis Beaumont to design a campus that would be user friendly and efficient.

Anne was determined to build a campus which students could be proud of and taxpayers would be pleased with for staying within budget.

After Anne was selected to be Merced College's chief student services officer, she continued to work closely with new dean Karyn Dower to ensure that the new campus turned out to be everything Anne had helped plan.

Anne's imprint is still on the campus, not only for all she did to get it built, but also for the spirit she displayed as dean.

After Karyn Dower was reassigned to the Merced campus, Anne also helped mentor current Dean Dr. Brenda Latham, whom Anne had helped hire as a science teacher a decade earlier.

Anne looks back on her days in Los Banos as some of the most satisfying in her life. Before she was selected as dean, she said, "The best job I could ever wish for is being the dean of the Los Banos campus."

Anne enjoyed her time in Los Banos so much she might have stayed here until her retirement. But when Allan Grimsby retired as the college's vice president of student personnel in 2005, Anne saw the need to step forward and fill that position, to continue Allan's emphasis on student success.

As vice president for the last eight years, Anne has ensured that all students throughout the college district have ample opportunities to succeed. She has consistently made decisions that have shown intelligence, understanding, accountability and integrity.

Anne leaves a legacy of outstanding service to the college and its students. She deserves appreciation and recognition, but she's not one to enjoy the spotlight. Reading this column, for example, would probably make her blush.

Anne will be soon be leaving Merced College, but her spirit will always remain, especially at the Los Banos Campus.

Comments on the writings of John Spevak, an Enterprise columnist for 29 years, are encouraged, and can be sent via email to john.spevak@gmail.com.

Comments on the writings of John Spevak, an Enterprise columnist for 29 years, are encouraged, and can be sent via email to john.spevak@gmail.com.

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