Florence Meet the Dean

Message from the Dean: 

Russ Pierson

There's a word I love that I'm thinking about often these days: "liminal". Liminal comes from a Latin word for what we call a "threshold", and it refers to those in-between areas in either time or space—the nooks and crannies, the borders and boundaries—life in the margins.

Here we are standing in the threshold. We find ourselves looking back over our shoulders, sometimes longing for life as we knew it, but in other moments mixed with courage and fear, we are also looking ahead, wondering how life might change when these in-between days have finally passed. And pass they will.

Many of us in western Lane County will likely be impacted in significant ways forever. We may find that the particular job we've been doing no longer exists or no longer offers a sure path toward a brighter future. Some small businesses in the region may not survive. And of course, with a little luck, the fortunate among us may slowly crawl our way back to a life that at least feels somewhat familiar.

In these liminal days, if you look ahead and find yourself wondering if you will have to make a change, here's the advice I gave myself just over a decade ago in the throes of the Great Recession: the best investment you can make right now is in yourself.

In 2009, I became a displaced construction worker. I was managing operations for a commercial construction firm, and we saw our clients fall away one by one in the wake of the financial crisis, with jobs that had seemed so promising disappearing overnight. The company began a painful round of layoffs. My spouse encouraged me to go back to school, and I began with a couple of classes LCC was running specifically for the newly unemployed in the construction industry. Those courses helped me earn certifications in green construction and sustainable technologies, and though I was much older than your average LCC student, I was able to prove to myself that I could be a successful college student. That gave me the courage to return to grad school after an almost 30-year hiatus. With renewed confidence and those certifications in hand, I applied and won a job at the Eugene campus in Lane's Facilities Management and Planning department, finished two graduate degrees during the first few years of working at LCC, and was able to pivot into an academic role when I won the job here in Florence in 2015.

Like me, your story is not over, and there are many chapters yet to be written.

As we pass through this liminal season into whatever the "new normal" may look like, Lane Community College is ready for you. Our Florence Center is a place where your dreams really can come true. You can build on what you know to become what you will yet be.

We are here for you.


Russ Pierson, DMin
Dean, LCC Florence Center
and proud LCC student