In 2008, I became the Vice President for Instruction at North Idaho College. My supervising president, Dr. Priscilla Bell, was a great mentor and advisor and she pushed me to pursue a presidency of my own. In providing that guidance and advise that I desperately needed, Dr. Bell talked at length about the value she saw in being a member of the Mountain States Association of Community Colleges (MSACC). She shared that MSACC provided, in her view, that best opportunity to have the kind of conversations that presidents needed to have with other presidents. When I was very fortunate to be named the president at Northeastern Junior College in 2012, Dr. Bell immediately congratulated me and reminded me that joining MSACC should be a top priority in my new role.
I happily followed Dr. Bell’s advice and joined MSACC shortly after joining Northeastern Junior College (NJC). During my first MSACC meeting in Arizona, I was immediately struck by the accuracy of my mentor’s advice. I learned so much in that first meeting and eagerly took what I learned back to my college. I remember very distinctly a presentation I heard from Apple employees who shared a video of kindergarten students preparing a video on the metamorphosis of a caterpillar. That presentation led me to bring the debate to my college about becoming an iPad college. After two years of that debate, Northeastern did in fact become an iPad college.
Over the nine years of my time at Northeastern, I have looked forward to and eagerly attended every MSACC meeting my calendar would allow. I’m also proud to say that I often adjusted my calendar to free up time for me to attend those meetings. Over the last three years of my career in community college education (which totals over 34 years) I twice chaired the MSACC annual meetings that were held in my home state of Colorado. It was a pleasure to do so because I knew I was bringing together great colleagues, mentors and friends for conversations about interesting topics and discussions of the issues that we as presidents wanted and needed to have.
I’m retiring at the end of this calendar year and there are many things I will miss (and some things I will not miss) about my time as a community college president, but one thing is for sure – I will greatly miss my time as a member of the Mountain States Association of Community Colleges.
Jay A. Lee, President
Northeastern Junior College