Inside Ivy Tech: Happy anniversary, Jerrilee Mosier

Five years ago this month, Ivy Tech Northeast found a new chancellor

Jerrilee K. Mosier, Ed.D., celebrates five years as the chancellor at Ivy Tech Northeast this month. Here, she is pictured with her husband, Russ Coombs, and her Goldendoodle, Ivy, in the couple’s side yard.

Psychotherapist Alfred Adler once said our first memories provide insight into our psyches, showing our fundamental view of life.

Jerrilee K. Mosier, chancellor at Ivy Tech Community College Northeast, offers up her first memory:

I was 3 or 4. My dad was in the Army at Fort Sill, Okla., and I had one brother with another one on the way. I was in the car. Doris Day’s “Que Sera, Sera” was on the radio. I stood between my mom and dad in the front seat with my arms around them, and we would sing it at the top of our lungs.

“What I take from that, really, is my motto,” she says. “You can plan as much as you want to, but you never know.”

Mosier moved to Fort Wayne from Washington state five years ago, and July 1 marked her five-year anniversary as chancellor at Ivy Tech Northeast. As the College’s administrator-in-charge,Mosier is the face of Ivy Tech in northeast Indiana, overseeing the region’s mission and employees.

Once, Mosier thought she’d end up as a director in special education, her first career goal. Looking back, she says, she could have been happy in fundraising, or maybe nonprofit work, too.

“I’d love to be in economic development—anything that would be improving lives and the community,” she says, and then turns to her husband. “I wouldn’t be a very good engineer. We balance each other very well.”

Russ Coombs is an engineer, and he ran his own consulting business: He trained employees in Six Sigma, a data-driven approach for process improvement. He is recently retired.

It has freed up even more time for travel, something the couple loves to do together. This spring, Coombs and Mosier spent a week on an Alaskan cruise, where Coombs took a helicopter ride over a glacier—Mosier opted to keep her feet on the ground.

Click on image for complete caption.

Her favorite things

Mosier is a reader, often working on two or three books at once. She read The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, a story of five sisters in Afghanistan who secretly start a small business after the Taliban took over, on the cruise.

“I kept coming to dinner telling everyone (about the book),” she says.

She’s also an HGTV-lover who enjoys cooking.

“She’s very modest about it,” Coombs says, “but she’s an excellent cook.”

“You think I make a good osso buco and apple pie,” Mosier says. The pie is her cousin’s recipe, and it won a blue ribbon at the Kansas State Fair.

And then, of course, there’s Ivy.

As Mosier and Coombs settle in to chat about the last five years, Ivy the Goldendoodle bounds up and plops
herself in the guest’s lap, snuggling in.

“Ivy! Get down from there,” Mosier says, but it’s clear Ivy isn’t in trouble. Ivy, who could be in the running for the World’s Friendliest Dog, just wants to be pals.

A successful blind date

Mosier and Coombs met on a blind date nine years ago, at Café Azul in Seattle.

“Mexican food. We had lunch. She was wearing long sleeves,” Coombs says.

“Bell sleeves,” Mosier says.

“She was talking with her hands, and she kept dipping her sleeves in the chicken tortilla soup,” Coombs says.

They wed three years later in what Coombs calls their “year of weddings.”  There was the first ceremony in the Cascade Mountains in Washington, where they eloped.  Because there were just four attendees—bride, groom, justice of the peace, photographer—the couple had another ceremony plus four receptions spread across Oklahoma, Kansas, and Chicago. They honeymooned in Mexico.

Her stepson, David, 24, is a Brigham Young University student who is spending the summer at a New York City internship. He is getting married in August to his fiancee, Kelsee.


After spending five years at Ivy Tech Northeast it’s easy to wonder, what about the next five years?

“I frankly enjoy my job, a lot,” she says. “I get to experience daily the impact we have on our students’ lives and on the community.”

And five years from now, she hopes to be able to say the same thing.

There are a few items on the “self-improvement” list. She’d love to learn glass blowing. She’s tried throwing pots on a potter’s wheel but can’t quite get the clay centered. She has enrolled in Spanish but had work interfere with class time.

“I just want to explore some topics I haven’t had time for,” she says, though she acknowledges that she can never know for certain what will happen. “Que sera, sera. Russ is the planner. I like the uncertainty. I think there’s an edginess to that. If you knew everything that’s going to happen,” she trailed off and shook her head.

Whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see.

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