Lane board brings on experienced new member

Melanie Muenzer selected to replace former board chair Sharon Stiles

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Kira Jones / The Torch
Board Chair Rosie Pryor answers questions that new Zone One board
member Melanie Muenzer had after her first executive session with the
Board of Education on April 12 in the boardroom.

With budget cuts looming, a shift in board members will provide a new voice on Lane Community College’s Board of Education. A unanimous vote filled the vacant seat, left behind by former Board Chair Sharon Stiles, for Zone One on the LCC Board of Education during the April 12 meeting. The board members that were left behind after the resignation of Stiles chose Melanie Muenzer to take on this task.

According to Lane’s web site, Zone One covers primarily western Lane County and reaches all the way out to the Florence Center. This seat was previously held by Stiles, who was a board member for nearly eight years before resigning to return to Seattle.

Rosie Pryor, who has taken over the Board Chair position, is grateful to have someone with such an extensive background join the board.

Kira Jones / The Torch
Members of the Board of Education, as well as Lane
Community College President Mary Spilde, listen to
students and staff speak their mind at the April 12 Board of
Education meeting.

“I think we’re very lucky, and the college as a board of directors, to have someone with her background in education policy join the board,” Pryor said. “I think we’re blessed to have someone with that breadth of experience, which none of us on the current board really have.”

Starting in Indiana, Muenzer’s background spans many years. With a goal in mind to try to “fix the world,” Muenzer got a job working for former President Barrack Obama in Chicago during the general election in 2008. When Obama got elected she was offered a job in the White House, which she turned down in order to work for the Department of Education.

Muenzer spent seven years working for the U.S. Department of Education before moving to Oregon a year and a half ago, where she was the Chief of Staff for Provost at the University of Oregon.

“I really really want to do this to help ensure that everyone has access to the education that they deserve,” Muenzer said. “Besides my family there is nothing that I really care about more than education and that is what I’m devoting my life to.”

Muenzer was selected to fill the Zone One seat for the rest of what would have been Stiles’ final term. The current term for the board members lasts until the end of the school year in July. At that point Muenzer will be running in the election for a full term seat on the board. There will be three names on the May 16 Special Election ballot including Muenzer, Sally Wantz and Jeffrey Gratreak. She has been endorsed by the college and has deemed her campaign slogan, “I want to help.”

“It’s not the best campaign slogan in the world,” said Muenzer, “but I want to help, it’s really why I’m here.”