The New President of Lake-Sumter State College
What led you here? I’m originally from Michigan…I grew up on a small farm and like a lot of kids, when I graduated high school I cleared out. Fifteen years later I ended up back in my hometown as a plant manager and the CEO of a group of painting companies. When the companies were sold, I started looking in a different direction for my career and joined community colleges.
What does your previous career bring to education? It’s a perspective of business and analysis. We are delivering an educational product and service. But in order to deliver that service, we are a business. I tend to look at things from that perspective: In order to support our mission, we have to support our consumers, which are our students and the community.
In what state have you found things, picking up the mantle of this position? I feel very lucky to be here. My first day here I learned we are being invited to participate in the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. We have an opportunity to place an application for an invitation-only grant. It is only extended to the top 10 percent of community colleges in the nation. We’re doing well.
Favorite quote: “Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” —Albert Einstein
How would you relate this quote to the college? What we’ve done in community colleges and state colleges during the last 50 years has been shifting, the way we receive students, the type of programs we offer. Like all of us, we look at the lessons of the past to help us define something new for the future, because the things we did in the past probably won’t work moving forward.
What does the college do well and what needs improvement? We are a very good university transfer institution. We need to do some work with the expanding workforce needs in the region. And it’s not because they were ignored, it’s because they’re growing and changing.
One avenue or project you’re hoping to dig into? I’m hoping to develop stronger and more robust partnerships with our K-12 partners and our technical centers. There’s an opportunity there and I don’t think any of us alone can meet the demand for the type of workers companies are expecting.
What is your best advice to students? Don’t worry as much about your 10-, 20-, or 30-year career path. Get a really solid education, which means math, science, English, and literature. Develop the foundation, the building blocks. Get a job and learn what you like and don’t like. Use that, build, and move on.
Recommended Read: “The Martian” by Andy Weir.