Longtime educator and administrator George Edwards will assume the role of interim chancellor for the Kentucky Community and Technical College System starting next month.
As the system-level chief academic officer, the chancellor provides leadership for academic affairs, workforce development, distance learning initiatives and professional development.
KCTCS President-elect Jay Box announced Edwards' selection as interim chancellor on Monday.
Edwards retired recently from Big Sandy Community and Technical College, where he served as president for 14 years. Edwards has 35 years of teaching and administrative experience at four community colleges in Kentucky and Virginia.
Edwards begins his interim stint as chancellor on Jan. 26.
KCTCS officials hope to name a new chancellor by April 1.
Box served as chancellor for five years and begins his new role as president on Jan. 16.
The Kentucky Community & Technical College System expects to sign a contract next month with president-elect Jay Box. But Chairman P.G. Peeples won't say whether the new president will get the same generous pay package as predecessor Michael McCall.
With about $669,000 in annual pay, McCall is the highest paid administrator of his kind in the country. Jim Waters, president of the Bluegrass Institute, wants KCTCS to be more open about its negotiations.
"The lack of transparency in the hiring process here also should make taxpayers extremely wary about such a generous compensation package including Cadillac benefits for a person who is overseeing a system with dwindling enrollment and funding," said Waters.
Enrollment has dropped 15 percent in the last year and could decrease another 6 percent if preliminary numbers hold up. Tuition revenue is also down significantly.
In January, the chancellor for the Kentucky Community and Technical College System will move into the presidency. The KCTCS Board voted unanimously Wednesday to confirm Dr. Jay Box as successor to current President Michael McCall.
Dr. Box has more than three decades of experience in community college leadership. He's been chancellor for KCTCS since 2009. Box says his accomplishments include furthering student completion, enhancing transfer policies and dual credit initiatives. The Texas native admits being an insider may bring more scrutiny.
"People know me. They know maybe some of the areas that I'm not strong in, but I think the board's decision shows that they see the strengths that I bring to this position and I think my strengths will help the system be able to move forward," said Box.
Box says he expects the number of Kentucky high school graduates to flatten out or even decline. He anticipates an increase in older non-traditional students entering the KCTCS.
"Those students, more than others, have failed in the education system before and that's why they don't have their high school diploma and so once we can get them to get their GED and enter with us, we think we've got a chance to help that group to be successful," added Box.
The Kentucky Community and Technical College System is close to having a new leader.
The Board of Regents met in special session Tuesday and recommended Dr. Jay Box as the next president.
Dr. Box is the current KCTCS chancellor, a position he’s held since 2009. The Texas native came to Kentucky in 2002 to serve as president of Hazard Community and Technical College. During his time as chancellor, Dr. Box is credited with helping eliminate barriers for community college students transferring to the state’s public universities.
“After an extensive national search we are pleased to have identified a candidate who matches the presidential profile developed in collaboration with our search consultant, search committee, board, faculty, staff and student representatives,” Board of Regents Chairman P.G. Peeples said in a news release. “Dr. Box has played a key role in shaping the learning opportunities KCTCS provides and he has demonstrated strong leadership and dedication to our students, faculty and staff.”
The KCTCS system is referring to Box as the preferred candidate. A forum will be held in Versailles on November 18 for college presidents, faculty, staff, and students to meet Box. The next day, the Board of Regents will review feedback and is expected to approve a final contract for Box.
Dr. Box replaces Dr. Michael McCall as KCTCS president.
Students at Kentucky's community and technical colleges are facing higher tuition costs the next two years. The Kentucky Community and Technical College System's Board of Regents approved a budget for the upcoming academic year that includes a nearly 2.1% tuition increase for in-state students.
The Board approved a $924.1 million budget for the state-wide system of 16 colleges and more than 70 campuses for the next year.
Board members approved higher in-state tuition rates for the next two academic years. For the next school year, tuition will go up from $144 per credit hour to $147. In-state tuition for the 2015-16 academic year will be $150 per credit hour.
Kentucky's community colleges will use new tuition fees to pay for improvements to campuses across the commonwealth.
The sixteen colleges of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System will take on about $200 million in bonds. System President Michael McCall says three-fourths of those bonds will be paid for by a four dollar per credit hour charge that will be phased in this fall, and will increase to eight dollars per credit hour in the future.
“The proposed agency fund will come from a capital fee that will be assessed to students, students who will be coming in,” said McCall. “We plan to really phase this in. The total amount that will be required for this would be eight dollars per credit hour per student.”
McCall acknowledges that KCTCS will also be raising tuition this fall, but could not say by how much.
About 92,000 students are enrolled in the system's colleges.
Kentucky's community and technical colleges around the state will take part in Super Sunday this weekend. Representatives from the schools will visit more than three dozen African-American and Hispanic churches. Following services, an information fair will reach out to prospective students and their parents.
"KCTCS has a strong commitment to diversity and ensuring that every citizen in this state has the educational opportunities that they need to succeed," said Dr. Michael McCall, president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. "It's our responsibility to make everyone aware of college, that it is within their reach."