Published December 12, 2019
Dr. Clayton Tatro is the new vice president for workforce development at Dodge City Community College. A passionate advocate for the role of the community college, Tatro brings more than 20 years of executive leadership experience in Kansas two-year higher education.
A native of Glasco, Kan., Tatro has served as Dean of Learning Services at Garden City Community College, President of Fort Scott Community College, and, most recently, Associate Dean for Instruction at Washburn Tech in Topeka.
Tatro earned his doctorate in community college leadership from Colorado State University and both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Pittsburg State University.
“I am excited to help expand workforce opportunities and training in the Dodge City area and all of southwest Kansas,” Tatro said. “The economy of Kansas is dependent upon a skilled workforce. As we grow career and technical education programs, we strengthen economic development and quality of life. I look forward to meeting the needs of business and industry.”
Tatro says he has three separate and distinct long-term goals for DC3. The first is to support, grow and develop existing tech programs. The second goal is to evaluate labor markets and student demand, and then identify new programs and opportunities. His third goal is to connect with the business and industry sectors to make sure DC3 is meeting their needs.
Tatro said he is hopeful that DC3 will have 4-5 new tech programs in place by next fall.
“We are only scratching the surface in terms of what we could be doing, particularly with our high schools in our service area,” he said. “I’ve already had multiple conversations about what new programs we can bring in.”
Among the possibilities are new phlebotomy, healthcare tech, climate and energy control, and electrician programs. Regarding the college’s agriculture program, Tatro said he is exploring the possibility of adding competition teams such as livestock judging and meats judging.
Tatro said he is also a big believer in certificate training because it concentrates learning in technical courses immediately. In the future, he would like to add more certificate-training opportunities as well as maintain the associate degree options already offered.
“I think there’s a real readiness out in this community for workforce development. I think there’s also a readiness particularly within faculty and staff to find different ways to connect with the community and to find opportunities for students,” he said.
Tatro said he thinks the Dodge City area is also a chance for him and his family to get back to a smaller community and to better connect with local business and industry.
“There’s something special about southwest Kansas,” Tatro said. “There’s kind of a bootstrap mentality. You take care of your own and you take care of each other. You just dust yourself off, and you keep on going.
“I don’t know what’s in store for us, but I’ve learned not to set timelines or limits,” he said. “I anticipate we will be here for a long while. I’m a firm believer that if you want to make God laugh, just tell Him your plans.”
Tatro and his wife, Melissa, have three sons, Garrett, Ethan, and Evan. Garrett is a senior at Emporia State University studying elementary and special education. Ethan is a freshman at Kansas State University studying mechanical engineering. Evan is a fifth grader.
Melissa is an instructional excellence coach with a company called Catapult Learning, and she travels around the country teaching teachers. Her territory stretches from Texas to Florida, and she is on a plane approximately 25-30 weeks out of the year, he said.
Because his wife will need to regularly drive to the Garden City airport to reach destinations in the Southeast and he will be in Dodge City each day, the Tatro family has decided to split the difference and settle in Cimarron. The family hopes to be fully settled in southwest Kansas by spring break.
Away from work, Tatro said he enjoys traveling with his family. And, when he has the time, he also likes to golf.
“After we get settled in the spring, and I can find a little time off, that’s where you’ll find me—on the golf course!”
By Lance Ziesch