Rocky Owens has journeyed around the world, but he is proud to call Coeur d'Alene home. His past connects him to the city, as well as to Lewis-Clark State College, where he has accepted a position as director of the Coeur d'Alene outreach center.
"I can think of few other places I'd rather be in my life," Owens said. "I can combine the best of an institution I love with a town that I love."
Owens has ventured to every continent, with the exception of Antarctica. In addition to studying abroad during high school, he spent summers as a college student overseas doing odd jobs. The jobs ranged from working at a reindeer farm in Finland to picking apples in Hungary.
He lived in Japan on two different occasions, studying at Nagasaki Junior College for one year, and later returning as a member of the Japanese Exchange Teaching program after completing a bachelor's degree at Lewis-Clark State College. He then relocated to the United Kingdom, where he earned a master's degree at the University of Wales.
Thirteen years ago, after serving as a congressional aide in Washington, D.C., he made his way back to Coeur d'Alene. He accepted a position as coordinator of student services for Lewis-Clark State College Coeur d'Alene. Owens has served LCSC-Cd'A for nearly half of its 30-year existence. He has witnessed tremendous growth in the institution as well as in the community around him. He grew along with it, progressing to assistant director, then to associate director. Owens moved into the position of interim director a year ago, following Cyndie Hammond's resignation.
His travels have provided him with unique insight into other perspectives on life.
He plans to let that insight drive his leadership.
"I hope to make my influence on this community one of embracing diversity and honoring the fact that Coeur d'Alene holds a special place in the world," Owens said.
Though his mind has expanded to encompass a view of the world, Owens has not lost admiration for the place he calls home.
"I'm always grateful for the family and the roots I have in Coeur d'Alene," he said. "My roots have given me a secure anchor in this community. I've never felt without a support system."
Owens, in turn, has supported the community that supports him. He has been involved with the Human Rights Education Institute and the Coeur d'Alene Chamber of Commerce.
Now, he will be instrumental in keeping Lewis-Clark State College Coeur d'Alene integrated with the community it serves.
"We have a distinguished record of service to the state," Owens said. "We want to embrace that record by continuing to provide North Idaho with four-year degrees."
Enrollment at the college's Coeur d'Alene center was 450 for this year's spring semester.
"Our five-year vision for LCSC-Cd'A includes increasing enrollment to 1,000 students, strengthening community relations with Coeur d'Alene and surrounding areas, bringing additional academic programs to life in Coeur d'Alene, and assisting in the construction of a joint-facilities building that will house offices for the higher education partners in North Idaho," said Kathy Martin, dean for community programs and governmental relations. "Rocky is the perfect person to help us achieve these goals."
Katie Pennington is the interim public information coordinator for Lewis-Clark State College Coeur d'Alene.