MATC board selects Jack Daniels as new college president

July 2, 2013

From madison.com: “MATC board selects Jack Daniels as new school president” — Growing up, Jack E. Daniels III joined his family on camping trips in Wisconsin Dells, roadtripping from their home on the South Side of Chicago for a week or more away amid the carnival rides and theme park attractions.

Now, the longtime community college administrator will return to the area as president of Madison Area Technical College, having impressed the college’s District Board with his background as a collaborative, inclusive leader.

“His unwavering commitment to student success and a positive collaborative work environment for all involved in the college, plus his commitment to partnering with the community to meet the needs of industry and business put him in an excellent position to lead us,” said Janice Bultema, a District Board member who was on the three-person search committee.

The college’s board approved the hire in a closed session vote last Thursday night and spent Friday hammering out terms of Daniels’ contract. The school announced the hire Monday.

He agreed to a three-year contract with a starting salary of $238,000, more than his current pay but slightly less than the $239,837 base salary of outgoing President Bettsey Barhorst.

Daniels is scheduled to start on Aug. 19. Barhorst, MATC president since 2004, agreed to stay on until Daniels takes over.

He comes to the job after serving since 2006 as president of Los Angeles Southwest College, an 8,000-student school that’s part of the sprawling Los Angeles Community College district. It was formed in 1967 in the wake of the Watts race riots to improve educational opportunities for the area’s then-majority African-American population.

He has been credited with helping the college be more accessible to the area’s now-majority Latino population, boosting their enrollment from 20 percent of the student body when he started to 36 percent today.

Daniels said he made a concerted effort to lure Latinos, focusing on hiring more of the group from the community and hosting cultural events and forums that made Latinos feel welcome.

“He did it without alienating people,” said Rocky Young, former chancellor of the L.A. community college district who hired Daniels to lead Southwest, first as interim president in 2006 then to the permanent job in 2008.

“It was a question of embracing one group without alienating other people,” he said.

Daniels was one of three finalists for the MATC presidency, along with Stephen Curtis, president of Community College of Philadelphia, and Ann Valentine, chancellor of Wabash Valley Region Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. Each visited campus last week for public forums and private interviews.

Bultema said that beyond his record as an administrator, it was feedback received from various campus groups that helped cinch the decision to hire Daniels.

“What we heard loud and clear from all the sessions is people really like his interpersonal style and his engaging interaction with others,” she said.

At a gathering last week, Daniels told staff and students at MATC that his

No. 1 goal is the students, and it should remain the No. 1 goal of staff after union contracts expire in 2014.

Bultema said the board was sufficiently satisfied with Daniels’ explanation when asked about his controversial 2005 resignation as president of Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, Ill.

He left the job with two years left on his contract and no job lined up after the board learned he was in a romantic relationship with the school’s human resources coordinator.

The relationship between Daniels, then 54, and Kimila Yuncker, then 34, began in 2004 when both were married to someone else, according to the State Journal-Register newspaper in Springfield.

Both eventually got divorced and later married. They’re still married today and will soon celebrate their ninth anniversary, Daniels said.

Daniels always denied that the relationship caused him to be forced out, and members of the Lincoln Land board have declined comment.

The board issued a statement at the time that Daniels sought “a new path in his career.”

In an interview Monday, Daniels said he voluntarily resigned to continue his relationship.

“I wanted to make sure it was open and to do that I resigned,” he said.

Bultema said that the MATC District Board discussed the issue with Daniels and that she had heard it came up in at least one other meeting last week.

Board members and others came away satisfied with his candor and explanation, she said.

Young, who hired Daniels to the job in Los Angeles a year after his resignation in Springfield, said his explanation at the time also was sufficient, and he’s glad he hired Daniels.

“I think you got a good person,” he said. “I really am a supporter. I think he took a pretty difficult situation (at Southwest) and really did a good job of transforming the college.”

 

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