SAC Dean Vernell Walker Retires
December 14, 2020
For more than 40 years, San Antonio College has been an important part of Vernell Walker’s life.
She first came to SAC as a student and earned an associate of applied science degree in business technology in 1976. After receiving a bachelor’s in occupational education from Southwest Texas State University in 1978, she returned to SAC as a job placement specialist in counseling.
She then earned a master’s in higher education and management from the University of Texas in San Antonio in 1982 and became the first woman faculty member in SAC’s management department. Walker was promoted to chair the department in 1989.
She now retires as a dean in the Division for Academic Success, a position she has held since 2009.
“I loved the college, believed in the mission of the community college and wanted to be part of the college where I felt that I could make a difference,” Walker said about her distinguished career at SAC.
Still, she faced many challenges during her tenure, many related to her being a woman in academia. “I was told that women could not teach management and I worked hard to prove this perception was inaccurate,” she said. “I was basically shy, but I had to overcome that if I was going to complete and survive in this environment.”
She has many fond memories of SAC beginning with her time as a student. “My first mentor was my accounting teacher,” Walker remembered. “She was wise in the ways she pushed me to succeed, stating ‘I don’t care if you have to come to my office for tutoring every day, but you are going to make an A in this course.’”
Her second mentor was the chair of the management department who, she says was her support system when she was hired as a faculty member.
“He, like my first mentor, pushed me and didn’t let me sit on the sidelines; I had to get in there and participate,” she said.
She forged many friendships throughout SAC, as she moved forward in her career. And she said she is grateful for the SAC community.
“The college became my family, my team, with many friends and supporters,” she said. “I could have never done this without their help. The opportunities afforded me and the awards earned have all become wonderful memories and I attribute it all of them.”
Vice President for Academic Success Jothany Blackwood has nothing but high praise for Walker. “Dean Vernell Walker is truly a treasure of SAC and an exceptional leader! I have always learned from her and she has been a joy to work with due to her insight, positive spirit and deep understanding of her programs.”
Blackwood added, “she has spearheaded innovation around workforce and is genuinely respected for her expertise and support of faculty across the colleges, as well as at the state level.”
Blackwood also credits Walker leading SAC through its first bachelor’s degree in nursing, a legacy that will continue to impact faculty and students in the future.
“She is truly irreplaceable as a leader and colleague and yet her legacy is woven into the fabric of SAC so she can feel proud that she is leaving SAC in a better place then she found it,” Blackwood said.
For now, Walker said she is looking forward to relaxing and spending time with friends and family, but she intends to stay busy. “I am not good at sitting around and not doing anything; so I will pursue new adventures,” she said.