For almost one third of its 75 years of existence, Pratt Community College President William Wojciechowski has been at the helm, guiding the college through unending changes for his 24 years.
He is pleased that he has been here long enough to see the children of his first students coming to PCC for an education.
As he retires he reflects on the many changes. Under his leadership, PCC became the first Internet provider in Pratt, one of the first colleges to have interactive television in the classroom, the South Central Community Foundation became a reality and the nursing program has grown from 30 students to 250.
Keeping up with technology has been a big challenge because of the expense and it is ever changing. When he became president in 1989, the campus has go computers, now they have 300.
He has seen the transition from slide projectors and 16mm projectors to VHS tape to the Internet, DVDs and smart boards.
His biggest challenge has been maintaining the college's quality and excellence in teaching while continuing to grow.
The full time equivalent student enrollment when Wojciechowski took over in 1989 was about 700 students. That FTE has grown to 1,100 for the current year.
His primary goal when he started was to guide the college in a direction that would get them to a point where they believed they could put PCC on the map, Wojciechowski said.
The battle to get to that point has always had to go through Topeka and the Kansas Legislature and many funding issues.
Wojciechowski has served on six task forces to improve funding, testified before the Legislature 12 times and even joined with two other community colleges to sue the State to get equal funding for technical programs.
The college has worked hard to produce students who succeed at the university level and in the working world as well.
Although he as been at the lead, it is the high quality faculty and staff and their dedication to the students that has made the college a success, Wojciechowski said.
The Board of Trustees has had many changes over the years but overall the Board has been very supportive of change and growth, Wojciechowski said.
The look of the campus has changed quite a bit over the past 24 years with the addition of the Student Union, Dudrey hall, North Hall, East Hall, Chandler Hall (nursing), Electric Power Technology, baseball practice field, softball practice field and the soccer field.
New programs include soccer, wrestling, athletic training, information technology, agriculture power and the newest program, wildlife enterprises management, still under construction, have all added to the PCC list of degrees, Wojciechowski said.
When he walked through the doors at PCC, the college was have a difficult time but he informed them that things would change, things would be different.
Page 2 of 2 - He believed in balancing the mission of growth and the needs of the people to get growth, expansion, quality service and dedication. He always had one goal, providing a quality education for the students.
"We are performing this mission to the best of our ability and doing it well," Wojciechowski said.
Helping make that happen are Vice President for Instruction Jim Stratford-38 years, Vice President of Students/Enrollment Management Lisa Miller-28 years, Vice President of Finance and Operations Kent Adams-20 years and Athletic Director Kurt McAfee-7 years. It's the best administration in the state, Wojciechowski said.
Wojciechowski credits his military career, first in Army National Guard then later in the Air Force where he rose to the rank of colonel and was an advisor to the Vietnamese Air Force, with preparing him to help lead PCC through the improvements through the years.
Those years helped him realize the importance of focusing on the mission of taking care of people.
Although his tenure will officially end on June 30, Wojciechowski said he would stay on until the day before the new president takes the reins so the college will not have to deal with an interim president.
He said he would miss the students and all the dedicated administration, faculty and staff.
He leaves one word of advice to his unknown successor. Listen.
Process for selecting a new president
• Trustees conduct a national, inclusive and transparent search.
• Trustees will appoint an inclusive and representative search committee including faculty, students, administrators, staff and community members.
• Search committee will participate in developing president profile, review applications and conduct interviews.
• The PCC website, www.prattcc.edu, will include regular updates on all aspects of the search for the college, community and candidates.
• The presidential profile will include input from public forums seeking information from both the college and the community.
• The search will be announced to all higher education, advertised in the Chronicle for Higher Education and other major publications.
• When finalists are invited to campus, college and community members will be invited to interact with candidates and share feedback with the trustees.