Academic vice president since 2012, Dr. Raylene Cochran (Secretarial Administration ’91) is a familiar face on stage during chapel. Her graceful poise and clear voice hold the student body’s attention as she shares academic-related announcements. When she was in the first grade, Dr. Cochran and her family moved to Pensacola, FL, from Idaho. She grew up attending Pensacola Christian Academy, then Pensacola Christian College, and eventually joined staff. For 17 years, she taught in the business department, later becoming the dean of business and professional studies. As academic VP, she works closely with deans and chairs and over 250 faculty to ensure academic excellence in all of PCC’s undergraduate and graduate programs of study.
1. What brought you to PCC?
My family moved to Pensacola in 1975, one year after the college was established. A close family friend who worked at the college told my parents about the Christian curriculum being created by Abeka, which was also very new, and encouraged them to come to be a part of this ministry. My dad started as an artist for Abeka, and my mom taught kindergarten. I was in first grade then, so you could say I grew up with PCC, and attending college here was a natural choice.
2. As an undergrad, did you work on campus?
Yes, I worked in Food Service as a server and dining room attendant. I also worked in Regency (the president’s dining room for guests and special events) when I was in college. Later I worked in the College Office, making admissions folders and other documents for new incoming students.
3. What is your fondest memory from your time as an undergrad?
Making and spending time with friends. I met my husband, Scott, while working in the Varsity kitchen the summer before my freshman year. While he toured the kitchen on his first day in Food Service, a friend of his pointed me out and made a joke that he should date me. Scott laughed it off but made a point of getting to know me that summer. I guess his friend was right because we’re still best friends and have been married for 31 years.
4. You worked at Rejoice Broadcast Network for a time. What were your responsibilities there?
Right after graduation, I was the correspondence secretary and answered phone calls and letters from Rejoice viewers and WPCS listeners. I also helped the operations manager with projects as needed, such as researching potential call letters for radio stations when WPCS was preparing to expand its broadcast nationwide as Rejoice Radio.
5. What inspired you to study business technology?
I have always been interested in technology and liked the practical, hands-on nature of the classes. That interest grew as I learned the many ways technology can be used to support business and education.
6. From 1995 to 2012, you were on PCC faculty. What classes did you teach?
I taught undergraduate and graduate business communication and technology/computer application courses in the business department.
7. How have your education and experiences helped you as academic vice president?
After I graduated, I never imagined that I would one day be the academic vice president. It wasn’t even one of my goals. I just tried to be faithful in whatever job I was doing; the Lord did the rest. Looking back, it’s remarkable to see how the Lord used my education and experience to prepare me for this position. Having a technology focus in my education has helped as we’ve implemented various technologies to support academic planning, teaching, and learning. I gained leadership experience serving as the chair of business and dean of professional studies. Serving on the steering committee for PCC’s first accreditation self-study prepared me to lead other accreditation steering committees, including those for engineering and nursing programs.
8. What are some hobbies or interests you enjoy?
Spending time with family. We especially enjoy hiking together. I also enjoy reading, traveling, and baking. In my free time, I’m always reading about issues and trends in higher education, looking for ideas that could be helpful for students or faculty.
9. What inspired your passion for education?
Education has always been a priority in my family. My parents moved to Pensacola because they believed in Abeka’s mission to provide a quality education with a biblical worldview. My mom was my kindergarten teacher. (You can’t get away with very much when your mom is your teacher!) She taught my siblings and me to read before we went to kindergarten and was always very involved in our academics. Growing up, I never thought I’d be a teacher because I had no interest in creating bulletin boards or teaching little kids. But the Lord opened the door for me to teach at a different level, and I’ve loved working with college students ever since.
10. What advice or encouragement would you give current students?
As academic vice president, my advice would be the same for students in any major—get involved. Be an active participant in classes, Christian service, and church. You only get as much out of something as you put into it.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.