Dr. Michael B. McCall founding president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) announced Friday he will retire Jan. 15, 2015 after 16 years leading the System that was created in 1997.
“I have been privileged to work with a dedicated Board, outstanding cabinet, committed college presidents along with extraordinary faculty and staff,” McCall said. “Together we have built a comprehensive two-year college system that is the envy of the nation. I am extremely proud of the work we have accomplished to enhance the educational attainment in the state. The last 15 years as president have truly been the most rewarding of my career. I believe now it is time to complete my tenure and for the System to begin the transition to new leadership.”
McCall will remain as president until a successor is named and in place to ensure a smooth transition between the current and future administrations. During the next month, Board of Regents Chair P.G. Peeples will develop a presidential search process and work with a search firm to develop a plan and timeline for a nationwide search.
“I am truly saddened by President McCall’s announcement to retire. It will be a tremendous loss to both KCTCS and the Commonwealth,” Peeples said. “Because of his leadership, vision and management skills he is leaving the organization in a very strong position, which will allow us to continue on the strategic course of being the nation’s premier community and technical college system.”
Early Days of KCTCS
In 1997 the Kentucky Postsecondary Education Improvement Act (House Bill 1) created the Kentucky Community and Technical College System by joining the 14 community colleges of the University of Kentucky with the 15 technical institutes in the Kentucky Workforce Development cabinet under a new system. This created the ninth, unique public institution, which today serves 96,914 students, making it the largest provider of postsecondary education in the state.
Shortly after Gov. Paul Patton appointed the first KCTCS Board of Regents they launched a national search to select the System’s founding president. McCall, a champion of community college education was chosen in a unanimous vote on December 3, 1998.
“I am as proud today as I was 15 years ago to have been a member of the board that enticed Dr. McCall to come to Kentucky to lead what was then the new community and technical college system,” Martha Johnson, first KCTCS Board of Regents chair, said. “With experience, energy and passion, President McCall has built a system of 16 colleges that are nationally recognized for their excellence. His understanding of the connection between education and economic development, along with his drive for KCTCS to make a difference in people’s lives, have forever improved educational access and opportunities for all Kentuckians. Although he will be missed, the foundation is firmly in place to continue the System's outstanding progress.”
McCall’s first challenge was to develop a community-driven effort to consolidate the 29 separate colleges and institutes into 16 comprehensive community and technical colleges. This entailed developing the initial infrastructure to support a statewide system that included creating an information technology infrastructure and administrative systems; establishing personnel rules for six different groups of employees; and building new financial and accounting systems. Additionally, the System had to obtain accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools for the newly consolidated colleges.
“KCTCS is one of the greatest accomplishments of the 1997 Postsecondary Improvement Act and is an unqualified success due to the leadership of Dr. McCall,” Gov. Paul Patton said. “Few things in life work out exactly as you expect, but KCTCS has exceeded all of our expectations thanks to Dr. McCall and the outstanding team he has built.”
McCall’s devotion to two-year colleges and his vision for KCTCS set the course for the System. The mission of KCTCS has always been to improve the quality of life and employability of the citizens of the Commonwealth by serving as the primary provider of:
• College and Workforce Readiness,
• Transfer Education and
• Workforce Education.
In just 15 years KCTCS has become the number one provider of workforce and postsecondary education in the state.
Under McCall’s leadership KCTCS has flourished and become the place where higher education begins for many Kentuckians. Nearly half of Kentucky’s postsecondary education students are enrolled at a KCTCS college.
Today, the 16 KCTCS colleges at more than 70 locations offer 700 programs in high wage, high demand fields, including 77 online credentials.
“Dr. McCall’s achievements as president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System are only outweighed by his commitment to improving the quality and access to education for all Kentuckians—despite their age, economic status or geographic location,” said Governor Beshear. “Community colleges play an integral part in Kentucky’s economy by providing the skills and education necessary to create a highly-trained and productive workforce. I thank Dr. McCall for his dedicated efforts to enhancing and growing our state’s first-rate community college system and wish him the best of luck in all his future endeavors.”
Other accomplishments during McCall’s tenure:
• Increased enrollment 109.7 percent.
• Served and changed the lives of more than 500,000 Kentuckians.
• Serves 6,204 businesses and trains 61,929 employees annually.
• Increased the number of certificates, diplomas and degrees awarded by 300 percent (2001-2012).
• Completed 45 capital projects totaling approximately $500 million, creating access to higher education throughout the state. There is a KCTCS location within a 30-minute drive of 95 percent of all Kentuckians.
• Worked with the General Assembly to champion revolutionary transfer legislation, which has eased the process for KCTCS students transferring to the state’s four-year public institutions. This legislation has become a national model.
• Established the North American Racing Academy (NARA), the first college-affiliated horse racing academy in the United States. Students from across the state, country and world travel to Kentucky to study at the NARA under the tutelage of Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron.
• Launched the Kentucky Coal Academy, which has trained more than 55,000 new and incumbent miners for work in more than 70 coal companies.
• Created the Automotive Manufacturing Technical Education Collaborative, a multi-state collaboration of community and technical colleges providing ongoing training for automotive technicians and engineers to equip them with the advanced skills they need to have successful careers in a constantly changing and globally competitive workforce.
• Created an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) Degree in Fire/Rescue Science Technology through the Kentucky Fire Commission, which is part of KCTCS. The Kentucky Fire Commission trains 80 percent of Kentucky-trained firefighters.
• Integrated the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services (KBEMS) into KCTCS. KBEMS certifies first responders and emergency medical technicians. Additionally, it provides licenses to paramedics and ambulance services and establishes standards for the education and training of emergency medical services personnel.
KCTCS Recognized Nationally
The culmination of McCall’s leadership was the creation of a premier community and technical college system, which has been reinforced by national recognition and awards.
“Dr. Mike McCall has been one of the transformative community college leaders of this generation,” Dr. Walter Bumphus, president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges, said. “The achievements and accomplishments of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System under Dr. McCall’s leadership have been second to none in the country. Mike has demonstrated exceptional leadership in developing a cadre of colleges that have been nationally recognized for their efforts in workforce development. Mike's legacy will certainly place him amongst the best of the best leaders in the history of community colleges. I am proud to call Mike not only a professional colleague but a personal friend.”
The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) reported the creation and accomplishments of KCTCS represent the crown jewel of higher education reform in Kentucky. Additionally, NCHEMS measured Kentucky’s rate of improvement on key higher education metrics from 2000 to 2009. It reported that Kentucky ranks first among all states on three metrics. Two of those metrics, improvement in the percent of working-age adults with college degrees and the number of undergraduate credentials awarded relative to the population with no college degree, were due primarily to the efforts of KCTCS. The report also revealed that the increase in three-year graduation rates at KCTCS colleges was the third highest percentage point change in the nation and resulted in Kentucky moving from 38th among states to 16th.
Other national recognition includes:
• The Aspen Institute, an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C., awarded the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence to several KCTCS colleges. The award represents the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges.
o 2011 – Eight were ranked in the top 10 percent in the nation and one was in the top three in the nation. Only two states, Florida and Texas, had more colleges recognized and these states are much larger than Kentucky.
o 2013 – Five were ranked in the top 10 percent with two in the top 10 — the most of any state.
• Community College Week recognized five KCTCS colleges as some of the nation’s fastest-growing community colleges in 2013.
• Second Lady Jill Biden and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis invited KCTCS to be part of their “Community College to Career” bus tour. The event featured five KCTCS college workforce partnerships.
• The Association of Community College Trustees awarded KCTCS the Charles Kennedy Equity Award for its commitment to diversity in 2011.
McCall’s Education and Experience
McCall earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, a master’s degree in physics and a doctorate in educational administration from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
McCall’s career spans 44 years of experience in comprehensive community colleges. His resume includes an educational career as a professor of physics and assistant dean of instruction at New River Community College in Virginia. From there, McCall went to Tidewater Community College as division chairman and on to Paul D. Camp Community College as dean and president. He later became president of Florence Darlington Technical College and then executive director of the South Carolina State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education. This position required him to coordinate operations of 16 colleges and to advocate on their behalf with the South Carolina General Assembly.
McCall’s Professional and Civic Leadership In addition to McCall’s leadership at KCTCS, he has been at the forefront of many state and national organizations serving on or leading boards and advisory committees.
The list includes:
• Fulbright Advisory Board
• American Association of Community Colleges, Board Chair (2006) • National Science Foundation Blue Ribbon Panel – (studying Community College pathways to technical, engineering & technology teacher education programs) • Interactive Digital Center, Honorary Advisory Board Member • Business-Higher Education Forum, Member • United Way of the Bluegrass, Board Member • Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Blue Ribbon Commission Member • Southern Growth Policies, Board Member • Community College Journal of Research and Practice, Editorial Board Member • Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning, National Advisory Board Member • National Council of State Directors of Community Colleges, Board Member • National Association for Industrial Education Cooperation, Board Member • Kentucky Workforce Investment Board, Board Member • Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Board Member • Bluegrass State Skills Corporation, Board Member • Council for Community Education, Board Member • Kentucky Farm Bureau, Education Advisory Committee Member
McCall also has won a variety of state and national awards including:
• State Community College Director of Distinction Award – Phi Theta Kappa • National Leadership Award – Inside the Field, National Council for Continuing Education and Training (NCCET) • Educator of the Year Award, Woodford County Chamber of Commerce • International Leadership Award – National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) • Kentuckian of the Year, Kentucky Monthly Magazine • Presidential Medallion, Murray State University • Paul Harris Fellow
During the next year, McCall will continue to work on the 2010-2016 Business Plan for Transforming Kentucky that is designed to increase student success by moving more students through the system’s 16 colleges in less time and for less cost. He also will establish the KCTCS Momentum Scholarship Fund. This new scholarship will assist students in completing a credential that will lead directly to gainful employment in high wage, high demand jobs or enable them to transfer for a four-year institution in less time and with less cost.
For more information about McCall and to view his bio, visit www.kctcs.edu.