By Maddox Price
As Dallas County Community College District’s current chancellor, Dr. Wright L. Lassiter, retires after 27 years with DCCCD at the end of 2013, incumbent Dr. Joe May is set to be officially voted in as new chancellor Dec. 3 at the monthly DCCCD board meeting.
The vote was moved from Nov. 5 to Dec. 3 to allow more time to complete a full write-up of May’s contract, according to dcccd.edu.
The search, which began in May 2013 following Lassiter’s announcement of retirement, gathered more than 39 undisclosed applicants from around the country, Lassiter said. Out of the 39, 10 were selected for one- on-one interviews. The candidates were then narrowed down to four individuals and then two.
May is currently president of the Louisiana College and Technical College System. He has also served as system president of Colorado Community College System and president of Pueblo Community College. He is an East Texas native and briefly taught at Cedar Valley College as adjunct faculty in 1978, according to DCCCD.edu.
Lassiter said he will stay long enough to show May the ropes, and is leaving behind a few projects he hopes May will finish.
Lassiter said some of the progressive projects May will continue include: searching for the new El Centro College president, taking care of the North Lake College natatorium that is due to close in 2020, focusing on the “commit to complete” plan (an emphasis on associate degrees), expanding of the El Centro campus and tending to the early college high school program Lassiter started. Lassiter said he has fulfilled his duty to the best of his ability and is proud of his accomplishments. He said, “If you’re going to leave, leave when you’re on top.”
May said he was especially elated at the prospect of working for DCCCD once more for many reasons. First, he said he went through life-altering experiences while working at Cedar Valley that led him to success. The second reason is that his wife, Jeanne, daughter, son-in- law and three grandchildren live in Dallas County.
May was the first in his family to attend college. While working part time at Cedar Valley, he realized he wanted to take his teaching career one step further. “These lessons included the realization that we live in a diverse society and, in spite of our differences, we share common dreams and aspirations,” May said.
He also said we live in an era when many people do not have the education they need to thrive in the economy, and employers are frustrated that they cannot find people with the job skills to meet their needs. “I understand that it is the role of Brookhaven College and all of our colleges to bridge this gap, which means that we must continue to provide access as we promote a quality educational experience,” May said.
Dr. Thom Chesney, president of Brookhaven, expects similar results for DCCCD. Chesney said, “I expect he [May] will provide vision and leadership that facilitates both the DCCCD and Brookhaven College toward achieving our mutually ambitious strategic goals for student and employee success, institutional effectiveness and community engagement.”
May said he wants to ensure DCCCD colleges are the best choice and wants to place an emphasis on student success through degrees and certificates. He said: “We cannot build strong communities unless everyone has an opportunity to pursue their personal dreams and aspirations. For too many of our citizens, this dream seems out of reach. My goal is to continue to find new ways to reach individuals who don’t think college is an option for them.”