STLCC Welcomes a new Chancellor
By: SPENCER GLEASON
Editor in Chief
The STLCC Board of Trustees announced on Tuesday, March 10 that Jeff Pittman, Ph. D., has accepted the chancellor position. Pittman will assume the responsibilities of STLCC chancellor effective July 1 and has signed a contract for the next five years.
“The board members really liked [him] and found in the written comments, that we had gotten [from STLCC staff and faculty], confirmed the personal nature of Dr. Pittman,” Board of Trustees Chair Craig Larson, Ed. D., said. “Somebody stated that he’s not trying to impress you, but he has a deep background in his own work in community college. He has a very personable style.”
Pittman has served as the statewide vice president of corporate college services and online education at Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, since January 2013. Previously, he was chancellor of Ivy Tech’s Wabash Valley Region for 11 years.
“Indiana is unusual, in that all their students in the state of Indiana all go to one system. So it’s one unified state system. There are 30 different locations, 14 different regions,” Larson said. “He wanted to get back into the business of working with an actual college, whereas he’s been overseeing a state-wide office.”
While Pittman oversaw the Wabash Valley Region, the college’s online enrollment increased from 32,000 students in 2008 to 69,000 students in 2010.
Pittman was also active in the reorganization and development of an organization for the delivery of Corporate College customized workforce training and services to businesses, industry and individuals throughout Indiana.
“The next step is to think about, ‘Do we offer the right programs — whether they lead to a degree or they lead to the right training — for the jobs that exist in St. Louis?’” Larson said. “We have a lot of work to do to make sure that we’re helping people come to a community college and giving them the right step — which may be to move on to [a four-year school].”
Larson said that part of the draw to Pittman was the fact that he was not applying to other schools. For the trustees, Larson said that showed Pittman’s dedication to St. Louis.
“In some ways [that] wouldn’t matter,” Larson said. “Some of the other candidates were in a couple other searches. But it was something that the trustees liked.”
Pittman will take over the position from Interim Chancellor Dennis Michaelis, Ed. D., whose contract will expire on June 30. Michaelis was hired in October 2013 in an agreed upon short-term basis-only situation.
“We hired Dr. Michaelis as the Interim Chancellor because our relationship with our previous chancellor kind of fell apart,” Larson said. “[The previous chancellor] had been here, right at three years. And she had followed someone that had been interim for just a few years. We had had two people that didn’t stay for very long.”
Larson said that both Pittman and Michaelis have already started to schedule a time to meet and talk about the future of STLCC.
“I would give a lot of credit to Dr. Michaelis and the people that he’s worked with. We have not been standing still the last couple years, under his leadership. We’ve made a lot of progress,” Larson said. “I think [the hiring of Pittman] is very much a good thing.”
Jeff Pitman, Ph.D. was one of four candidates vying for the position, alongside Rod Nunn, Beverlee McClure and Richard Dawe.
Candidates were screened by a chancellor search committee and the final four presented at all campuses the week of Feb. 23. Dr. Craig Larson, chair of the STLCC Board of Trustees, said the board was looking for a chancellor who could manage change.
“St. Louis Community College is in the middle of a lot of change. We are actually declining, somewhat, in enrollment. We have programs we need to start for more online education. We need to tie together the academics across campus, so that we specialize in the change of our areas at one campus and not try to do the exact same thing at all of the campuses,” Larson said.
Larson said it is very important for any community college to have a chancellor able to work with business leaders, other colleges that students might want to go to after attending STLCC and with potential employers of small and big companies.
“You need a chancellor that can work with an elective board, and have some experience in that department, but also a chancellor that understands the academic side of community colleges, the job training side and how to run multiple campuses. Another thing we are looking for is presentation and if they can represent the college effectively,” Larson said.
Interim Chancellor Dennis Michaelis will serve his term until June 30, 2015 and Jeff Pittman will take over as of July 1, 2015.
“I feel we have learned from Dr. Dennis Michaelis’ great work over the past 18 months — that you need someone who can work well with the college and the city of Saint Louis,” Larson said.
Larson said Gold Hill Associates owner Preston Pulliams began searching for the new chancellor in late September 2014. Approximately 29 applications were filed and five candidates were chosen for interviews. The four remaining were interviewed by the screening committee, the board of trustees and visited all four campuses.