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McBride to retire from JDCC

Jefferson Davis Community College President Dr. Susan McBride, who has led the school through state budget troubles, campus renovations and a re-accreditation process, will retire from the school after 11 years.

McBride and her husband, Reid, plan to move closer to family in Arizona.

“Brewton is a wonderful community,” she said. “We would not consider leaving if not for family. We just decided it was time.”

McBride’s tenure at the school — which coincided with some scandals at other two-year colleges — was marked by success and recognition for the Brewton and Atmore campuses.

“I can’t take credit for all of the wonderful things that have happened,” she said. “We have had a focus on student success. We’ve also worked hard on financial stability.”

As budget troubles began to brew statewide, McBride said JDCC looked at what needed to be done to shore up its finances.

“All colleges have had to make layoffs,” she said. “We did it in the beginning.”

That gave the college more leeway at a time when other schools were still coping with budget cuts. “We are always looking forward,” McBride said.

Under her tenure, the school has also seen renovations of its infrastructure, including new roofs, outside lighting at parking lots, a major remodel at the Atmore campus, and, most recently, the remodeling of the Brewton campus library.

McBride presided over a successful re-accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

“It hasn’t been a lot of glitz and glamour,” McBride said. “But when students transfer from the community college system, they are successful. And at JD we’re one of the leaders in that. Our students are guaranteed to have a good experience if they work hard.”

And while other schools in Alabama saw some controversy in recent years — including financial scandals at Bishop State Community College and other campuses — JDCC has earned respect across the state.

During a speech at the Brewton Rotary Club meeting Monday, Alabama two-year college Chancellor Dr. Freida Hill praised JDCC and McBride’s leadership.

“JDCC is an example of an institution making a difference,” she said.

“We’ve had ethical leadership (at JDCC),” McBride said. “It’s really pretty easy to do. I’ve always told the faculty and staff, our job is to keep our eye on the students.”

McBride said she believes an interim president will be appointed early next month, ahead of her departure, and then a full-scale search committee will begin the task of finding her replacement.

McBride, who has chaired such a committee in the past, said that process could take about five months.