Board room in the Roll Building of KCC's North Ave. campus
Courtesy of Kellogg Community College.

During Kellogg Community College’s regular board meeting Wednesday night, Angela Provart, who joined the meeting through Skype thanks to new audio and visual improvements to the KCC board room, gave an update on the college’s current president search.

According to Povart, president of the Pauly Group, the executive search firm hired to assist KCC with its search, there are 13 candidates in the preferred applicant category, which means the candidates are both qualified and have the preferred skills for the job. There are 11 candidates in the qualified category, which means the candidates are strictly just qualified for the position. There is also a third category for applicants who are unqualified for the position, but Povart did not mention any names being in that designation.

Provart said she expects there to be 10 to 15 additional candidates in the preferred category before the process is over. Applications will be accepted until Sept. 23.

“We’ve got some really good people in there,” she said. “We’ve got a couple with presidential experience and a couple rising stars.”

KCC President Mark O’Connell announced his retirement in May and will retire on Dec. 31 after a 29-year career at the college. O’Connell has been KCC president since 2016.

Study abroad update

Also at the board meeting Wednesday, KCC professors Michelle Wright and Kevin Barnes gave a presentation on the study abroad experience offered to students this summer. The group of students added four members of the community to their journey and departed for Europe. The trip was focused on giving students a perspective on history.

Wright thought the trip to be important because it is the 75th anniversary of both the D-Day invasion, which saw the Allied forces gain a foothold in Europe, and the Battle of the Bulge, which was the deadliest American battle in the war.

Barnes and Wright took 21 students and four members of the community from Normandy, France, to Salzburg, Austria. Students also were able to see Notre Dame in Paris. Wright explained that some of the students were initially disappointed they couldn’t go into the cathedral because of the damages done by the fire, but she saw it as a good opportunity for students to talk to locals and see how the fire affected them.

Enrollment and facilities updates

President Mark O’Connell also gave an enrollment update during his report to the board.

“I’m happy to announce that we’ve reached the enrollment number that allows for me to initiate the wage increase negotiated in the Collective Bargaining Agreement,” he said.

O’Connell also announced that the improvements on the North Avenue entrance to campus should be done by Sept 27. The improvements, announced three months ago, are a bit behind schedule according to the president, but will be completed shortly. The project was initially estimated to cost $333,000.

The board passed a resolution allowing for work to be done at the Eastern Academic Center to improve drainage at the location. O’Connell said the work needs to be done before the Michigan Department of Transportation can come in and repave the road near the facility. He added that interior demolition on the building is currently in process.

The board was also shown the updates that have been done to the campus’s North Avenue campus parking lot.

“There was a lot of good improvement out there,” O’Connell said. “I’m very proud of what our Facilities Department did.”

The lot was both repaved and saw improvements to the lighting system.

Also at the board meeting:

  • The board briefly addressed their 5-year capital outlay plan. O’Connell said that they are currently in the process of redoing the school’s physical plan. Half of the renovations have already been completed. “The plan is to ask the state to help pay for the other half of the physical plan,” he said.
  • During the board comments portion of the meeting, Trustee Patrick O’Donnell spoke about how well he felt the Bruin Blast event had gone that afternoon. “It was great,” he said. “Drew (Hutchinson) and his crew did a good job.”
  • A presentation was given announcing United Way’s fundraising goals for the upcoming school year. This year’s employee portion of fundraiser has a goal of $12,000. The annual chili cookoff, scheduled for Oct. 24, has a goal of $600. The event kicks off on Oct 1 with all pledge sheets being due on Nov 8. “The board has always been so supportive,” Chris Sargent, president and CEO of the United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region, said. “Our partnership is long-lasting and deep.”
  • Tom Shaw gave the results of this year’s Corporate Cup, which saw KCC take their seventh first-place win in 10 years. He called the last 10 years KCC’s “decade of dominance.” The only three years KCC did not place first, they finished second.
  • KCC Vice President for Instruction Dr. Paul Watson gave a presentation on the new online tool for students regarding the Michigan Transfer agreement, or MTA. He called it the result of “two years of collaboration.”