Gatepost Interview: Alexandrine Policar, Director of Institutional Processes and Efficiencies

Courtesy of Alexandrine Policar

What is your educational and professional background?

My educational background is really diverse and broad. I have undergraduate degrees in agriculture and environment from Quisqeya University in Haiti. I graduated in 1996. … I graduated in 2007 with an MBA, and in 2008 with a master’s in information technology [from UMass Boston]. I also have a doctorate degree from Northeastern University in law and policy. 

What brought you here to
Framingham State?

I spent 17 years working at UMass Boston in administration. I’ve been teaching part-time as well since I finished my doctorate in 2011. So, I’ve been working at UMass developing systems, making sure that business processes are effective, and also working with all the different stakeholders, and reviewing their technology policies – things like that. So, when I saw this opportunity, I jumped in because I like to do both – I like to do administration in higher education and also teach. I decided I wanted a change because it’s been 17 years at UMass. … I thought it was a great opportunity to continue my learning experience and also to add value to the University in any way I can.

What is your role here at the University?

I’m the director of institutional processes and efficiencies – that’s one of the departments in Academic Affairs. … We’re responsible for the onboarding process of part-time faculty. After they hire them, we do all the paperwork and also do faculty payroll. … We also work with the deans and academic chairs to make sure that we have the right equivalencies for faculty when they are teaching. We also provide reports to the union to make sure that we are following the contract. … One of my goals is to develop better relationships with all the different stakeholders who are working on campus, whether it’s IT, Academic Affairs, HR, or whatever. We make sure that the process is seamless and see where we can be more effective and efficient.

What is your favorite part about your job?

My favorite job as someone with an analytical mind is to look at the data and find trends, analyze the data, and see how we can use that information in order to make decisions. I love looking at the data – we have so much. Every semester, we have data from all the different courses and faculty members, and looking at that and the trends, we see where we can improve ourselves as a department and also as an institution as a whole. 

What has been your favorite academic experience?

My favorite experience, I would say, was in 2014 when I was fortunate enough to get a Fulbright Grant to go to Haiti and do some research. I’m originally from Haiti, so I feel like that provided me with an opportunity to share my resources and maybe bring some change to the country. I went there, and I made a proposition to develop online teaching and learning. In Haiti, most of the students live in rural areas and people come into the city. But I wanted to see if we could decentralize education by providing online teaching and learning how that could help to provide the younger generation with education, so they can be independent citizens. … I saw the sacrifices my students there were willing to make, and I compare that to students here – I see how complacent some of them are. I’m trying to motivate them to be better and to become an agent of change here and find something they are passionate about. … I want to push them to achieve more. I’m always mentoring and teaching students – that’s something I want to continue to do for the rest of my life. To me, knowledge is nothing – it’s knowledge-sharing, when you can spread what you know and learn from other people as well. That’s my main motto in life. I want to share as much as I can. 

What are some differences between school in the U.S. and school in Haiti?

I did my undergraduate studies in Haiti, and then I immigrated to the United States to continue my learning. … When I was studying for my master’s degree, it was a full-time job, a full-time program from 9 to 5. We had access to so many different technologies and resources – databases, all these scholarly papers, things like that. In Haiti, it’s different. That’s one of the things that motivated me to become a Fulbright Scholar – most of the time, we don’t have the faculty members with the necessary skill to teach the courses that are supposed to be taught. Also, we don’t have the infrastructure in Haiti, and the curriculum is not updated. … When I was in Haiti, I was teaching online courses for Lasell College and DeVry University. I was far away from the capital in the rural areas, and I thought, “Oh my God. I have access to internet, even though it’s expensive.” So, I thought, I should develop a system so that students in Haiti should be able to learn as well. It would allow us to break boundaries and expand our knowledge and be informed. 

What are some hobbies of yours?

I like to bake. I like to garden – I’m an avid gardener. I like photography and designing things on the computer … using Photoshop and editing pictures. But my absolute favorite thing is gardening. In fact, I’m planning on growing some vegetables [in the office windowsill]. I thought, I have a lot of sunlight coming in, so I should grow some veggies – probably some tomatoes or lettuce for spring. I want to start early March. 

What advice do you have for FSU students?

College is a great experience for students. I would advise each student to find something they’re passionate about and to be involved. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Just be engaged, be courteous, and just be open as well. I see that we have experienced some racial bias incidents on campus with graffiti, and I hope for students to be open, to appreciate diversity, and understand that even though we might be different, we can share common values. … We should be more tolerant and accepting.

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