TU: FSCJ taps Illinois community college leader as new president

Link to article: https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190404/fscj-taps-illinois-community-college-leader-as-new-president

By Teresa Stepzinski

An Illinois community college veteran is on track to become the new president of Florida State College at Jacksonville, which serves about 50,000 full- and part-time students from throughout Northeast Florida.

FSCJ’s District Board of Trustees on Wednesday unanimously selected John Avendano of Kankakee, Ill., as president-elect. He will become the college’s sixth president.

Avendano, 56, currently is president and chief executive officer of Kankakee Community College, which is somewhat smaller than FSCJ. He will retire June 30 from Kankakee, which he has led since July 1, 2009.

FSCJ and Avendano now enter contract negotiations for his salary and benefit package. Avendano told the trustees he would be available to take the helm of FSCJ as of July 1.

Karen Bowling, FSCJ board chairwoman, said they were honored to welcome Avendano and look forward to partnering with him as the college continues its work to provide educational and economic opportunities in the community.

“Dr. Avendano brings a fresh vision, shared values, industry expertise and a true passion for education that will lead our institution to new heights,” Bowling said. “Together with our faculty, staff, students and community partners, we believe he will enhance our strategic vision for the College and continue to elevate FSCJ both regionally and nationally.”

Avendano succeeds Interim President Kevin Hyde who has served in that role following the retirement of former FSCJ President Cynthia Bioteau last May.

Avendano couldn’t be reached for comment. However, in his letter of application he explained his philosophy.

“I believe community colleges have the educational experiences through transfer opportunities, career and technical education, adult education, community and continuing education, and corporate training to meet the needs of everyone who crosses our thresholds,” Avendano said.

He pledged to be a champion for FSCJ and every one of its students. Avendano also promised to listen to the needs and be responsive to the feedback of students, faculty, business and industry leaders and residents.

In his resume, Avendano said his significant accomplishments at Kankakee included:

  • Directed two successful strategic plans with involvement of local and regional leaders in business and industry, superintendents and principals, healthcare professionals, economic development professionals, the entire campus community, alumni, current students and community residents.
  • Expanded facilities to meet the needs of manufacturing and new renewable energy technologies with the addition of the Manufacturing & Industrial Technology Center and the Advanced Technology Education Center.
  • Strengthened honors programs such as Phi Theta Kappa, resulting in multiple years as a Five-Star Chapter and Regional Chapter of the Year. Also expanded the Alpha Delta Nu Nursing Honors Program and Recognition.
  • Strengthened the academic performance of all athletic teams with the addition of the Athletic Tutoring Program, which resulted in numerous Academic All Americans.

He has at least 30 years of community college experience. He previously served as president of the Illinois Council of Public Community College Presidents, and as a past chairman of the South Metropolitan Higher Education Consortium President’s Council in Illinois.

Avendano has a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology and a master’s degree in adult continuing education, both from Northern Illinois University. Avendano also holds a doctorate in educational administration and foundations from Illinois State University.

FSCJ awards more than 6,000 degrees and certificates annually. It has about 1,300 full-time and 1,100 part-time faculty and staff. The college has a major role in supplying the region’s employers with a highly skilled, educated workforce.

Avendano’s selection resulted from an eight-month national search facilitated by AGB Search, an affiliate of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.

FSCJ received 74 applications for the presidency. The trustees’ decision came after a three-day, on-campus visit that included open forums, student and faculty meetings, an event with community leaders and an in-depth interview with the trustees.

Teresa Stepzinski: (904) 359-4075

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