DJ: KCC's Avendano gets Florida post

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Lee Provost | | 815-937-3364

KANKAKEE — Retiring Kankakee Community College President John Avendano has been selected as the next president of Florida State College at Jacksonville.

Avendano, 56, of Bourbonnais, was chosen late Wednesday afternoon and will begin his tenure at FSCJ after he leaves KCC at the end of June. He has been KCC's top administrator for 10 years, after taking over for Jerry Weber in July 2009.

Avendano replaces interim President Kevin Hyde, who has served since the retirement of former FSCJ President Cynthia Bioteau in May.

"I'm excited. Very excited," Avendano said Thursday afternoon. "There is no doubt I will miss my friends in Kankakee and Iroquois counties and at KCC."

Contract details are still being finalized. The FSCJ board will formally approve his hiring Tuesday.

After touring the campus on Monday and being interviewed by numerous school groups Tuesday, Avendano went through a 90-minute board of trustees' interview Wednesday morning.

Avendano was one of 74 applicants who sought the position.

Concerning FSCJ, he noted it is about 15 times the size of KCC. It has about 42,000 students. By comparison, in KCC's most recent fall semester, it had about 2,800 students.

He joked that he will be retired for about a 24-hour period prior to taking over the leadership of the Jacksonville-based school.

During his visit and interviews, he said he felt a "great synergy."

"I just felt this was a good fit for me," he said.

Up until he takes over the Florida school, Avendano will have spent his entire life in Illinois.

"It's really going to be strange leaving Illinois. To live somewhere other than Illinois, I've never done that before. It will be different, but I am looking forward to Florida weather," he said.

When he announced his retirement from KCC and the Illinois Community College System in September, he said he had no real plans for what would be next.

"I thought if an opportunity presented itself in Florida, Tennessee or the Carolina's came up, I would take a look. This opportunity checked all the boxes," he said.

Avendano, who was recognized as the Daily Journal's 2018 Citizen of the Year, said that recognition helped him in this process. He noted he included the story in his application packet as he made his way through the selection process.

"If they were looking for someone who is involved with the community, this recognition showed that I am. Everything just seemed to fall in place for me."