My Fourth Year President Reflection
There is an old adage that “time flies when you are having fun” and in many ways it’s amazing how quickly the calendar days add up and I have and continue to enjoy many rewarding and challenging times. In the first year of my College Presidency, I hit the ground running, meeting regional and local education, business and industry, civic partners, and simultaneously hosting student, staff and faculty campus forums to listen, learn and prioritize key initiatives to support teaching and learning.
The second year was highlighted by several regional first initiatives, including the regional WKCTC Education Express, Regional Educators Awards and Scholarship Program, and the Regional Business Symposium. Each of these initiatives captured and showcased my key initiatives and intentional efforts to position WKCTC as the go-to resource for education and workforce training. I have often been asked what my favorite activity or moment has been in the past four years. There are so many to choose from, perhaps it is running into so many former students who now have kids coming to WKCTC, or faculty, staff colleagues at the college and friends I have not seen in decades. Perhaps it’s the incredible support and encouragement from business and community partners, civic and community groups. Perhaps, it is the Challenger Learning Center’s Solar Eclipse celebration, which brought one of the largest crowds onto campus in the school’s history, or the Education Express, visiting every county, engaging with the educators and leaders, and seeing first-hand the deep appreciation and support of the college.
But I have to give special recognition to the Regional Educators Awards and Scholarship Program as one of my favorite major initiatives. It was inspired by a similar program in Knoxville, Tenn. and by my wife, Cornelia Reece’s K-12 efforts both in Paducah at the Family Resource Center, and Head Start and Project Grad and Community School initiatives at Vine Middle School in Knoxville. The purpose of the program is to boost recognition, appreciation and respect for our K-12 teachers, staff and administrators with an Academy Award level, red carpet ceremony celebrating education. Since beginning in 2017, the award ceremony has attracted hundreds of educators and their families who cheer on their loved ones and their schools. The announced winners in four different categories share powerful acceptance speeches which have been memorable and priceless.
There is also an adage that “you are only as good as your team” and I am deeply appreciative of the continued support of my Cabinet and campus leadership. The plethora of national, state and local recognitions received in my first four years as president are a testament to the long standing level of excellence executed inside and outside of the classroom at WKCTC.
I would have to say that unequivocally 2020 will no doubt be one of the most memorable by the unprecedented combination of success and challenges. Who would have thought that in the first six months of the year, WKCTC received national recognition as a Bellwether finalist, a five-time Aspen top ten finalist competing for the 2021 prize, CASE fundraising recognition for 2020, and ranked the number one ranked community college in Kentucky by BestColleges.com. Unfortunately, we are all experiencing the challenges of navigating, adjusting and adapting to the “new norm” of COVID-19. Notwithstanding our faculty, staff and students executed an amazing response converting from primarily face-to-face to totally online coursework in less than a week this past spring!
WKCTC’s brightest days are still ahead. Stay tuned.