Legendary Leadership

Intimate Conversations with
Community College Presidents

Since the founding of Joliet Junior College, which enrolled six students when it opened its doors in 1901, community colleges have experienced explosive growth. Today, the community college system includes over 1,100 associate-degree granting institutions enrolling more than seven million students nationwide. Frequently referred to as “Democracy’s Colleges”, their continuing success is vital.

Thousands of visionary leaders at all levels in community colleges have led the way and most leave a legacy for those who will follow. The Ferris State University Doctorate in Community College Leadership (DCCL) program was established to meet the professional development needs of current and emerging leaders, and the videos presented here comprise an important contribution to the body of knowledge about community college leadership.

Dr. James Jacobs, president of Macomb Community College, is widely recognized for both his leadership accomplishments and his expertise in the area of workforce development. Interviewed by Jim Kelly, a Trustee at Macomb, Dr. Jacobs explores the strengths and weaknesses of community colleges, priorities in the future, and looming workforce development issues.

Dr. Sylvia Jenkins, president of Moraine Valley Community College, took an unconventional career path from an adjunct librarian to the presidency of one of the nation’s great community colleges. Interviewed by Joe Loobey of Harper College, Dr. Jenkins talks about building an executive team, navigating longstanding relationships when you are now president, and breaking several glass ceilings.

Dr. Ann McGee, president of Seminole State College in Florida, discusses the importance of developing a strong leadership team and excellent relationships within the community, and how that pays off in times of crisis. Interviewed by Dr. Jon Mandrell of Sauk Valley Community College, she shares lessons learned from a number of high-visibility events that happened in her district.

Dr. Dick Shaink, president of Mott Community College (ret.), significantly improved student success, retention and degree completion during his tenure. Interviewed by Dr. Ann Flint of Jackson College, Dr. Shaink provides candid thoughts in answer to the question, “What does it take to bring about change in a community college?”

Dr. Kenneth Ender, president of Harper College, says that emerging community college presidents have to “feel comfortable building the plane while you are flying it,” because today’s leaders must have a high tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty. Interviewed by Dr. Talia Koronkiewicz of Volunteer State Community College, Dr. Ender talks about distinguishing between the “right decision” and the “best decision” when making tough choices as a leader.

Dr. Marilyn Schlack, president of Kalamazoo Valley Community College, enjoys the distinction of being the first woman to attain a community college presidency in the state of Michigan. Interviewed by Dr. Chris Engle of Mott Community College, Dr. Schlack discusses motivational strategies, organizational communication and multi-generational leadership.

Dr. Laura Meeks, president of Eastern Gateway Community College (ret.), explores the question, “What does it take to be an effective community college leader?” Interviewed by Wendee Guth of Illinois Central College, Dr. Meeks shares her perspective about the skills and personal qualities necessary to be successful.

Dr. Gunder Myran, president of Washtenaw Community College (ret.), has worked in the community college arena for 55 years and is regarded as the father of adult and continuing education in community colleges. Interviewed by Dr. Fiona Hert formerly of Grand Rapids Community College, she guides him through, among many topics, his thoughts about the spiritual side of leadership and the “soft skills” that define the best leaders.

Tell us what you think! If there is a topic you would like covered in the future, or want to share what you think, email us at [email protected].