4 years ago by
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Dr. John Letts had the interim tag removed Thursday morning as he was named president by unanimous vote of the John Wood Community College Board of Trustees.
Letts takes over for Tom Klincar, who left JWCC in October to become chancellor of Texas Central College.
"I am really pleased," Letts said after he was unanimously selected by the board. "This is a real privilege in my mind to have this position. I love this place. I love what it stands for and what we do for our students in the communities that we serve."
Letts came to JWCC in August 1988. He was the vice president for student services before becoming interim president following Klincar's rocky departure which saw the college pay him a severance package of $185,000. Letts will have an annual salary of $160,000 and his contract runs through June 20, 2013.
Letts is the college's fifth president. He served as interim president from August 1996 to February 1997 during the transition from the College’s second president, Dr. Robert Keys, and its third president, Dr. William Simpson. Letts’ title was changed to vice president for student services in 2001.
Letts, who is 63, said the feedback he has received from the community, the board, the staff and students has been positive since he became interim president.
"I can’t say enough about our employees and our students and how they’ve rallied," Letts said. " We’re moving on and focusing on our students and their success. I’m amazed at the support and the encouragement from everyone."
Letts said the spring enrollment has declined (figures will be available next week) and he considers bolstering that a priority, along with finding his replacement and replacing Vice President of Finance Alan Steigelman, who is retiring in June.
"We’re working on a strategic plan and that will become the road map I’ll be using and the rest of the administration will use," Letts said. "We need to maintain our rural engagement in Pike and Brown Counties and we've discussed what we wanted to do regarding facilities in those counties."
While Letts signed an 18-month contract, he said "I’d like to be around a few more years. I’m not looking to go anywhere. Quincy’s home."
Board Vice Chair Randy Sims presided at the meeting because Dr. Gary Carter attended via conference call.
In open session, Trustees reviewed options regarding the selection of the next president. During the Board’s January retreat, Trustees reviewed the needs of the district, the process that is underway for an updated strategic plan and discussed the expectations for JWCC’s next president. The Board considered the timing, cost and potential outcome of a national search and also asked Letts to provide a vision statement and what his plans would be for the College if he were to be considered for the position.
Trustees moved to go into closed session for further discussion. Following the closed session, Trustees voted to directly appoint Letts effective immediately.
Carter said Trustees have been impressed by Letts’ steady leadership following Klincar’s departure and his vision and plans for the College.
“Dr. Letts is clearly committed to this community and our students,” Carter said. “He has the experience, has shown that he can lead effectively and has the respect of students, faculty, staff and the community. We’ve been closely watching his leadership as interim president and believe his vision and plans for the College are what we need at this point in JWCC’s history.”
Trustee Reggie Coleman said. "Overwhelmingly, people common folks and business people I have talked to on a regular basis are unanimous in their support of John Wood and making John Letts our permanent president. He has a great deal of respect among service clubs and other professionals and board members from other organizations who’ve said it’s a no brainer."
In other business, the Board announced its intent to sell $1.35 million in general obligation alternative bonds for an energy conservation project proposed by Chevron Energy Solutions. Trustees voted in December to table a decision on a $3.9 million contract with Chevron, largely because it included a significant investment of $1.9 million to renovate the Kinscherff Adult Education and Learning Center at 122 N. 5th in Quincy at a time when the Board is considering other facility developments in the district.