Top finalists visit JDCC

Published 8:32 pm Wednesday, October 5, 2011

From left, Dr. Gary Branch, Godwin, Bain, Underbakke, Bebee and Anderson

In just a matter of days, the five finalists who were introduced to Brewton residents Wednesday afternoon will become three with one name being presented to the Board of Postsecondary Education at it’s meeting later this month.

A reception to honor the five finalists in the search for a president for Jefferson Davis Community College was held on the Brewton campus Wednesday afternoon to allow the college staff, faculty and community residents an opportunity to learn more about those hoping to win the position.

Dr. Gary Branch, president of Faulkner Community College in Bay Minette, welcomed the finalists and guests at the reception held at the ATN Center in Brewton.

“I appreciate each of you being here today,” Branch said. “It shows you have a love for this institution and a desire to see it continue to grow. I know how valuable a good community college is to a community and the quality of life it brings to the citizens of the community it serves.”

Branch, who has served on a number of selection committees for just such a search, said he was pleased with what he saw in those named as finalists in the search for JDCC.

“This has to be the strongest applicant pool that I’ve worked with,” Branch said.

Dr. Angeline Godwin introduced herself as being a native of Enterprise and having a love for and a desire to lead community college.

“Our daughter is a product of a community college,” Godwin said. “It is an honor to be here today and to hopefully be a part of Jefferson Davis Community College and I would like to be here to lead it into the next era. Community college’s are where the rubber meets the road. They are the premier economic engine for any community.”

As Dr. Daniel Bain introduced himself, he told those present he admitted his growth through the services offered at the community college level.

“I gained skill sets at community college that allowed me to be involved in education,” Bain said. “I have seen the return from community colleges as instructors and administrators work to see the lightbulb go off over a student’s head. A community college is a wonderful investment for any community. I want to see another generation come through these doors and leave well-prepared and better people for this community.”

Dr. Richard Underbakke had been successful in the automotive industry before returning to college to gain the ability to become an educator.

“I spent my college career working and raising a family,” Underbakke said. “We live and breath the community college philosphy that brings college and community together. Each one relies on the other in so many ways.”

Dr. Barbara Bebee, also a product of a community college education, said she is happy to have been a first generation college student in her family.

“I am a product of community college and have worked in the community college system,” Beebe said. “I want to continue that work in building parnerships between the college and the community. We want to work with those industries and businesses as partners so we can know what they need and provide that for them. We can be a vital component in helping the people of the community see it as the best that it can be.”

Dr. Robert Anderson, a resident of Arizona, said he has been impressed with what he sees happening in Alabama’s community college system.

“Community colleges are uniquly American,” Anderson said. “I see that here. This campus is beautiful and I’ve seen the Atmore campus and it’s beautifl. I see a slose assocation and attachment to the community here. What drives me most is the reipple effect when the lightbulb goes on for the students. We must be facilitators of learning. We exist to serve the people and I see myself as a service leader.”

The 11-member search committee will begin interviews of the final five applicants Thursday morning at 10 a.m. in the lobby of the Woodfin-Patterson Auditorium on the Brewton campus. The interviews are open to the public.

The committee will submit the names of three finalists to the office of the chancellor of Postsecondary Education who will then conduct final interviews on Friday. Chancellor Freida Hill will conclude the interviews by submitting a recommendation for the position to the Postsecondary Education board meeting Oct. 29. An announcement of the new president at Jefferson Davis College is expected soon after that meeting.