Dean of ADMC Valerie Haring is committed to being an involved, intentional Dean | Butler Community College

Dean of ADMC Valerie Haring is committed to being an involved, intentional Dean

Valerie Haring shares her experience as official dean of ADMC division.
Published: Tuesday, December 5th, 2023

Fresh off receiving official dean status, Haring has settled into her role

Each decision Valerie Haring makes as the new Dean of Arts, Digital Media and Communication (ADMC) is meant to serve ADMC students and be a good steward of taxpayer dollars. Her goals for continued department growth stem from a desire to help Butler Community College become the prime academic location in the Midwest region. 

“We [move] high school graduates into academically challenging classes and performances earlier than they would at a four-year institution,” Haring said. “Every department in our division works to maintain articulation agreements with area colleges and universities to make transfers from [Butler] easy and cost-effective. Or, graduates may even be ready for the workplace with the skills they take with them.” 

To benefit her division, Haring implemented a “stamp card initiative” that requires students to attend at least one fine arts event by every performance department of the division. Students who attend more than the expected number of events are entered into a drawing for a gift card. 

“It’s not about the prize, but the meaningful time spent together supporting all the arts at Butler,” Haring said, hoping this will help students feel comfortable exploring events and supporting their peers. 

Haring’s time as interim dean eased her shift to official dean, as she felt the support of faculty and students while familiarizing herself with the role. She taught in a Butler classroom for 30 years and has taken classes as a student while teaching here, experiences she brought with her as dean. 

“Because I taught for so many years, I feel I have a lot of empathy for what faculty and students experience every day,” Haring said. “Some days are stressful and some days are bliss. We all try to find that balance and learn a lot in the process.” 

As the 2007 Butler Master Teacher Award recipient, Haring has taught thousands of art students and credits teaching for helping her improve her own art.  “The artist Pablo Picasso outgrew his father’s art instruction at an early age, causing his dad to become bitter and sad. I feel entirely different. The better my students are, the more pride I take in knowing that I played a part in their success.” 

She also received the Outstanding Student Advocate award last semester, a testament to her dedication to students. 

“[Haring] takes gentle care of all her students,” said the anonymous student who nominated Haring for the award. “Whether it be with classes, extracurricular activities, or personal life problems, she was the first person at Butler who made me feel welcomed and comfortable.” 

Many of her students are successful in their respective fields, including a filmmaker in Egypt, graphic designers in California and Arizona and a world-class photographer in Virginia. Other former students have gone on to become fashion designers, painters, tattoo artists and local high school teachers. 

Haring is not currently teaching or taking classes in order to focus on increasing enrollment for ADMC. She is helping to refine academic pathways so students only take necessary classes for their degree or scholarship requirements. She does, however, hope to take classes from Butler again in the future, as she values continued learning. 

She shows her art every other year in the Erman B. White Gallery faculty show and recently showed her work with her husband, John Oehm, at the Reuben Saunders Gallery in Wichita. “I have donated artwork to the Foundation auction, and my work is in several private and public collections in the region, including the renowned Emprise Bank collection,” said Haring. 

Haring has two sons she is immensely proud of and a current and future daughter-in-law. She enjoys hosting dinner parties and cooking meals for family and friends. On her way to and from work each day, she listens to audiobooks of well-written books narrated by a convincing voice. 

“I actively focus on the words. I think it helps me be a more intentional listener,” Haring said in reference to her people-centered life and profession. 

By Caleb Sanderson