New CEOs

Joel Hagood will serve as president of Bevill State Community College (Alabama), as of January 1. He is currently superintendent of Walker County Schools in Alabama.

Previously, Hagood was principal at Oakman High School and director of curriculum in the Walker County School System. His entire educational career since 1997 has been spent in Walker County, which is home to Bevill State’s largest campus.

“When you combine Dr. Hagood’s proven leadership with his local expertise, you get an ideal candidate for Bevill State’s next president,” said Jimmy Baker, chancellor of the Alabama Community College System.

Brock Kelley was named president of Lurleen B. Wallace Community College (LBW) in Alabama, effective December 1. He has served as interim president of his alma mater since September.

Previously, Kelley was regional director of workforce development for the Alabama Community College System. Prior to that, he was director of workforce development for the Alabama Department of Education. A native of Opp, Alabama, Kelley began his career as a special education teacher at a local high school, moving up to eventually serve as principal at another high school. He earned an associate of science at LBW, where he was a member of the Saints baseball team.

Hope Rivers will be the third president of Piedmont Technical College (PTC), effective January 4. She will be the first person of color and first woman to lead the South Carolina college.

Rivers currently is executive vice president of the South Carolina Technical College System, where she has served since 2000. She works with the presidents and other leaders of the state’s 16 technical and community colleges to promote collaboration in curriculum, student services, research and other areas. Rivers is credited with developing statewide transfer and articulation agreements with colleges and universities. In 2019, she received the South Carolina Woman on the Move Award from South Carolina’s chapter of the American Association of Women in Community Colleges.

“She has been instrumental in brokering strategic industry partnerships and building strong legislative relationships at the state level. Most recently, she helped develop the $17 million SC Workforce Industry Needs Scholarship, which has been a tremendously helpful program for our students,” Richard Cain, chair of the PTC Area Commission, said in a statement.

Joe Whitmore was appointed president of Snead State Community College in Alabama, effective December 1. He has served as interim president at the college since June.

Whitmore’s career in higher education began in 1994 as director of business services at Jacksonville State University. During his 22-year career at Jacksonville State, he held the roles of director of institutional analysis, director of institutional support services, and associate vice president for business and auxiliary services. Whitmore joined Snead State in 2016, serving as vice president for finance and administration and chief financial officer.


James “Jim” F. Gollattscheck, who served for 14 years as president of Valencia College in Florida and later as a vice president at the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), passed away on November 6. He was 91.

In 1967, Gollattscheck joined the founding administration of the new Valencia Community College in Orlando, serving as the college’s first vice president for academic affairs and later became its second president from 1970 to 1984. The college, which he helped start, grew from 500 students on a campus comprising 20 air-conditioned portables, to more than 70,000 students on five campuses by its 50th anniversary in 2017.

“Throughout his career, Jim Gollattscheck was a builder – a man who helped craft the first courses and degree programs at Valencia College, who hired the first faculty members, who oversaw the building of Valencia’s first two campuses and who helped lay the foundation for the college that Valencia has become today,” said Sandy Shugart, president of Valencia College.

Jim Gollattscheck (second from right) with local dignitaries, including Delta Burke, then Miss Florida, at the groundbreaking of Valencia College’s first campus. (Photo: Valencia)

After retiring from Valencia, Gollattscheck joined AACC where he served for eight years as vice president overseeing publications, including the Community College Journal, its new biweekly newspaper Community College Times (which is today’s CCDaily), and its book publishing endeavor. Several mainstay books in the field were published by AACC’s Community College Press at this time, including then-AACC President Dale Parnell’s The Neglected Majority (which outlined a plan for educating “ordinary” people who weren’t pursuing a postsecondary education), Tech Prep Associate Degree: A Win/Win Experience (which helped to include tech prep in the 1990 Carl D. Perkins Act) and America’s Community Colleges: The First Century (a comprehensive history of the community college movement, which he co-wrote).

“Jim was right in the middle of all of this by using the association’s publications as a strong promotional tool for the value of community colleges,” said Jim McKenney, a former long-time vice president of workforce development at AACC.

In his second retirement in 1993, Gollattscheck enjoyed traveling the world and lived abroad in cities such as Paris, London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Dublin, Montreal and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. He even penned a guide to living affordability in Europe. Prior to Valencia College, Gollattscheck worked for Pinellas County Schools for 13 years, starting as a classroom teacher and rising to acting superintendent of schools.

Andrew “Drew” J. Matonak, who served as the sixth president of Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) in New York, passed away on November 7 following a battle with cancer.

Matonak became president of Hudson Valley in 2005 and retired in 2018. Over those 13 years, the college saw much growth and innovation in academic programming and student services, as well as changes to its 120-acre campus.

“Drew’s remarkable career in higher education spanned more than four decades, with countless contributions at several colleges and universities. As he retired, he said that Hudson Valley Community College will always be in his heart. We will hold him in ours as well, and recall him as a genuine, caring and compassionate leader, mentor, colleague and friend,” said Roger Ramsammy, who succeeded Matonak as president of the college.

Under Matonak’s leadership, HVCC introduced more than 25 new degree and certificate programs and developed a stronger pipeline for local high school students through programs such as its Clean Technologies & Sustainable Industries Early College High School. The college also at this time expanded its student support services and revamped its campus with new high-tech buildings, such as the Training and Education Center for Semiconductor Manufacturing and Alternative and Renewable Technologies.

Drew Matonek takes a selfie with members of Hudson Valley Community College’s softball team. (Photo: HVCC)

According to the college, another hallmark of Matonak’s tenure was the 2019 campus visit of President Barack Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, who discussed the importance of community college economic development and workforce training initiatives similar to those developed at Hudson Valley.

Prior to joining HVCC, Matonak – an alumnus of Butler County Community College in Pennsylvania – was president of Northwest Iowa Community College. He also served in leadership roles at Lakeland Community College (Ohio), Horry-Georgetown Technical College (South Carolina), University of Houston, Lee College (Texas) and the Eastern Iowa Community College District.

Elton L. Newbern, Jr., who served for a decade as the second president of North Carolina’s Halifax Community College (HCC), passed away on November 13 due to Covid-19. He was 79.

Known for his planning and accountability to those he served, Newbern – who was at the helm of HCC from 1988 to his retirement in 1998 – helped to develop and grow the college. Under his leadership, the college’s curriculum and continuing education enrollment grew from 5,800 students to 8,050, while full-time equivalent student enrollment grew 60%. Newbern also oversaw the expansion of HCC’s campus, including a new nursing and student services building, a literacy and science education building (which was renamed in 2015 in his honor), a criminal justice and early childhood education building, a childcare center and an expanded parking lot. The college’s foundation also grew significantly under Newbern’s leadership, tripling to 24 new endowments.

In 2015, Halifax Community College renamed its education center in honor of former President Elton Newbern (right). Then-President Ervin V. Griffin, Sr., presented Newbern with a framed declaration. (Photo: HCC)

Newbern held memberships in many organizations, including AACC, Phi Delta Kappa, American Education Research Association, North Carolina Association of Community Colleges Instructional Administrators, Lions Club and Rotary Club. In 1992, he received the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations District II Pacesetter Award. In 2015, Newbern was inducted into the East Carolina University Education Hall of Fame.

Prior to HCC, Newbern was vice president of Vance-Granville Community College (North Carolina) and principal of two high schools in the state. He began his education career as a math teacher.

Following his retirement, Newbern continued with his favorite pastimes, which included farming, fishing, hunting and traveling.

Girard “Jerry” Weber, who over his career served as president of several community colleges and as a board member of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), died November 11 at age 70 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Weber most recently served as president of Bellevue College in Washington state from 2017 through this March. Prior to that, he was president of College of Lake County (CLC) in Illinois from 2009 to 2017, where he led environmental sustainability efforts that garnered him and the college national attention. In 2016, the college was recognized by AACC for its efforts to integrate sustainable practices and processes with a Green Genome Award. Weber also served as chair of AACC’s Presidents Sustainability Task Force and was as an adjunct faculty member at Harvard University in the continuing education program teaching executive education for sustainability leadership.

“Dr. Weber’s leadership in international education and sustainability left an important, lasting legacy at CLC,” current President Lori Suddick said in a statement. “As a colleague of Jerry’s, I know that I, along with so many of you, appreciated his warm personality and his passion for connecting with students. He will be missed.”

Jerry Weber, president of Bellevue College in Washington, chats with colleagues after a presentation at the 2018 AACC Annual Convention in Dallas. (Photo: Matthew Dembicki)

Weber began his community college career, which was mostly in Illinois, as a writing instructor at Harper College before joining John Wood Community College, where he held teaching and administrative positions. He then served as dean for academic support programs at Triton College and was the founding vice president of instruction at Heartland Community College. In 2001, he became president of Kankakee Community College (KCC), where he served until 2009.

Weber led KCC through a strategic planning process that resulted in a 20-year master facilities plan for the college. Under his leadership, KCC opened a satellite center, an education and employment center, a workforce development center, an arts and sciences facility, and its Health Careers Center for Excellence. The projects were done with an eye toward sustainability.

“Dr. Jerry Weber was a catalyst for change and a champion for sustainability,” KCC President Michael Boyd said in a release. “Jerry started the conversation on our campus about sustainability, and our focus on sustainable and renewable energy training is part of the legacy he left here at KCC. After his departure, the college carried on with that priority. He and I spent some time together a few weeks ago. Jerry visited the campus and he toured the renovated Miner Memorial Library and the new Advanced Technology Education Center, which was built to deliver KCC’s renewable energy curriculum. I could tell how proud he was of ATEC, even though it occurred after his time at KCC had ended. He made a lasting impact on our campus.”

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.