KCC Board suspends presidential search

A view of the reflecting pools area in front of the North Avenue campus on a sunny summer day.

The Kellogg Community College Board of Trustees announced tonight that it is suspending its search for a new KCC president for at least 12 months.

In a prepared statement, Board Chairman Steve Claywell said he and the other trustees have noted that Interim President Mark O’Connell has done an excellent job in the position since March. Also, Claywell said, this is not the time, given the College’s declining enrollment and tight budget, to devote the resources required for a national search.

“We have heard from KCC employees and community members who are noticing, just as we are, the many positive changes occurring at the College under Mr. O’Connell’s leadership,” Claywell said during a Board meeting this evening. “They also raised legitimate questions about the wisdom of spending tens of thousands of dollars on a search at a time when we’re financially challenged.”

O’Connell has served as interim president at KCC since March, when former president Dr. Dennis Bona, announced his retirement and intention to accept a college presidency in Minnesota. The Board published a request-for-proposal document in June and received three proposals from search firms over the summer. Trustees reviewed those proposals during a meeting Sept. 10.

With the search suspended, O’Connell, formerly the College’s vice president of administration and finance, will continue in the interim role.

“I have told the Board that I will do whatever they ask of me and whatever is best for the College,” O’Connell said. “As interim president, I have made it my mission to move the College forward with a focus on student outcomes and with the help and expertise of all of our employees.

“We are doing just that and we’re seeing evidence of increased levels of trust, communication and collaboration at all levels of the College. Our faculty leadership, for example, recently created a Faculty Senate and we are committed to working together on matters that will benefit our students and the College as a whole,” O’Connell said.

Claywell said he appreciates the time and effort that the search firms devoted to their proposals, and noted that the firms will be formally notified that the search has been suspended.

“We genuinely thank Mr. O’Connell and all of KCC’s faculty, administrators and staff members who are continuing to move the College forward. As trustees, we are quite pleased with the progress that has been made in the past six months in areas related to the budget as well as to the College’s overall stability,” Claywell said. “We are excited that these changes are occurring and we hope that all of us, including trustees, will continue on this trajectory.”

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