You're invited to join us Tuesday, when the Garden City Community College Board of Trustees hosts an inauguration for Dr. Herbert J. Swender as the sixth GCCC president. Dr. Martha Kanter, U.S. undersecretary of education, will be arriving from Washington, D.C., to serve as guest speaker.

The ceremony is set for 10 a.m. in the main gym at GCCC's Dennis Perryman Athletic Complex, preceded by a reception from 9 to 9:45 a.m. in the same location. The public is welcome for both.

President's background

The president, who was selected unanimously by the college's six-member elected governing board in 2011, is a Kansas native from Chanute, who has worked in community college education since 1983.

He began his career on the Allen County Community College faculty in Iola. During his tenure there, he also served as division chair and division director for the business and technology division. He accepted the position of chief academic officer at Independence Community College in 1992, and moved to Borger, Texas, in 1996, where he served nearly four years as vice president and dean of instruction at Frank Phillips College, and 11 subsequent years as president.

His own education includes:

* A doctorate in higher education administration from Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, in 1991;

* A specialist in education degree from Pittsburg State University in 1986;

* A master of science in education from Pittsburg State in 1983;

* A bachelor of science in education from PSU in 1982;

* An associate in arts from Neosho County Community College, Chanute, in 1980.

Accomplishments

He has published a number of articles and developed a series of successful college partnerships involving public and private components for the advancement of education.

In fact, he served as an essay author and national conference presenter for the Council on Resource Development in 2011, just after taking charge here, and was involved just recently in a study completed by GCCC for the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees and the 2012 Community College National Legislative Summit, focusing on the impact of college student Pell Grants on educational opportunities for women, Kansas community colleges and rural communities.

Since he arrived, our college has received a $1.7 million workforce development grant from the U.S. Labor and Education Departments; opened the GCCC Access and Opportunity Center, to better serve refugee students and others in adult education; and signed a series of agreements with Kansas State University to bring additional bachelor's degree programs to southwest Kansas.

He has served on workforce and economic development boards at local, state and regional levels, as well as taking an active role in promoting the community college mission nationally.

Guest speaker

Undersecretary Kanter, who will speak at the inauguration ceremony, has served in the U.S. Department of Education since 2009. Among other responsibilities, she oversees policies, programs and activities in postsecondary education, adult and career-technical education, federal student aid and five White House education initiatives.

She also handles planning and policy responsibilities under President Barack Obama's American Graduation Initiative, focusing on improving college access, affordability, quality and completion.

The Direct Student Loan Program was implemented under her leadership, and her team works with partners across the nation on college completion, teacher quality reforms, adult education improvements, career-technical education upgrades and a new U.S. Labor Department partnership that directs $2 billion toward increasing quality, graduation and employment opportunities for community college students.

She served from 2003 to 2009 as chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, one of the nation's largest. After work as a New York and Massachusetts alternative high school teacher in 1977, she established the first program for students with learning disabilities at California's San Jose City College, and then became director, dean and later vice chancellor for policy and research in the California Community Colleges chancellor's office. She returned to SJCC in 1990 as vice president of instruction and student services, before taking the De Anza leadership post in 2003. She has earned extensive honors at state, regional and national levels.

Presidential timeline

Previous GCCC chief executives have included:

* Dr. Carol Ballantyne, who led the college from 2000 to 2010.

* Dr. James Tangeman, 1988-2000.

* The late Dr. Thomas F. Saffell, 1976-1988.

* The late Dr. Raymond D. Wamsley, 1971-1976.

* L.C. Couch, 1965-71.

Dr. Joseph Emmons, Lawrence, served as interim president between the Ballantyne and Swender administrations. Prior to 1965, GCCC was administered through the Garden City public school system.

We hope you can join us for the ceremony to officially inaugurate our sixth president. For GCCC, this is an important moment in our 92-year history.