Since November 1988, students could be heard saying the simple statement, "I’m here to see Maggie." But that’s about to change. Maggie Picking, Cowley’s vice president of student affairs—surrogate mother, mentor, counselor, and leader—is leaving after nearly 13 years as head of the student services department. Her last day is June 29.
Picking, a Hays native who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Fort Hays State University, will become the vice president of student services at Garland County Community College in Hot Springs, Ark. She said the timing was right. "It’s an exciting time for them because they’re merging with the technical school up the mountain," Picking said. "I’ll be developing a plan for student services related to the merger." Garland County’s enrollment is similar to Cowley’s, and both schools have federal TRIO grants. But there are differences. Garland does not have athletics or on-campus housing, and it resides in a resort community of about 33,000. "I’m very excited about the opportunity, and so is my family," Picking said.
Maggie and husband Eddie have three children: Willie 17, Rebecca 7, and Jonny 4. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in 1981 in psychology and communications, Picking worked two years for Kansas Wesleyan in Salina as an admissions counselor. From there she went to Colby Community College, where she was student government sponsor for one year, behavioral sciences instructor for seven months, and associate director of admissions for four years. From May to November 1988, Picking was assistant administrator for the Kansas Regents Network in Manhattan. She then became assessment/placement coordinator for Cowley in November 1988.
In August 1989, Picking was named director of admissions, and in July 1990, dean of students. She has had her current title since June 1995. Picking said she never wanted to be president of a college. Rather, student services are her passion. "I’ve always liked admissions," she said. "I’ve always seen student services as a support to the classroom instructor. There is so much learning outside the classroom, and student services personnel have so many opportunities to pass along life-long skills to students they might not get in the classroom. I think that’s very exciting."
Some of Picking’s major accomplishments at Cowley include securing the college’s first TRIO grant in 1997, establishing a more comprehensive tutoring program, developing an overall admissions plan, cutting the school’s loan default rate from 35 percent to 14 percent without sacrificing enrollment, helping to develop the Early Academic Warning System, assisting with the advisor’s handbook, taking a major role in the reaccredidation process, and seeing the college’s on-campus housing grow. "This job has allowed me, in situations with students, to be more empathetic with students," she said. "Not to enable them, but to help them grow. I’ve learned not to take things personal. I think my own self-esteem has grown."
Picking admitted she’d miss the relationships she’s cultivated during her time at Cowley. "All of the people, the support, the bonds, relationships and contacts I’ve made, not only at the college but within the community, have taken time," Picking said. "I’m going to miss them the most." But Picking said the staff she leaves behind is solid. "We have such competent people working in student services," she said. "These people are so good at what they do."