JWCC picks Renfro as next president


Bryan Renfro will become John Wood Community College's next president. — Submitted photo

QUINCY — The John Wood Community College Board of Trustees unanimously approved the appointment of Bryan Renfro as the college’s next president at the October 26 special board meeting.

Renfro will start his new position on Jan. 4, 2023. He succeeds President Michael Elbe, who announced his retirement earlier this year. Elbe’s official retirement date is Dec. 31, 2022.

“We welcome Dr. Bryan Renfro as our next president of John Wood Community College,” JWCC Board President Diane Ary said in a press release. “Our search committee brought forth many excellent candidates for this post. We thank them for their expertise and guidance during the search process. Over the last several months, extensive interviews with the candidates led to the selection of Dr. Renfro. He brings a wealth of experience in many of the areas our board identified as critical for the ongoing success of John Wood Community College.

“We believe Dr. Renfro will continue our emphasis on the mission of the college: enrichment of lives through learning by providing accessible educational opportunities. Dr. Renfro’s strong drive for results, balanced with his strategic orientation makes him a natural fit to carry the torch for JWCC with respect to student success, enrollment growth, Career & Technical program development, and leadership within our College and community. Our board is confident that Dr. Renfro will provide a seamless transition in delivering strategic, financial, and operational leadership for John Wood Community College.”

Renfro’s appointment comes after a comprehensive national search that involved campus and community participation. The presidential search process consisted of a 15-member search committee led by trustees Bob Rhea and Randy Greenwell and consultant, the Pauly Group, a national search firm with more than 30 years of experience in academic and executive leadership placement.

Renfro was reached during the meeting by Zoom.

Incoming JWCC President Bryan Renfro addresses the school’s Board of Trustees via zoom on Wednesday night. JWCC Board Member Randy Greenwell then talks about why Renfro was the right choice to lead the college.

“It is truly an honor to serve as the seventh president of John Wood Community College,” Renfro said. “First, I would like to thank President Elbe for his leadership of the college. It will be an honor and a privilege to follow him and to build upon the tremendous progress he and the board of trustees have made. Second, I would also like to thank the board of trustees, the presidential selection advisory committee, and everyone who participated in the search process. I am grateful for their trust in me, and I will work to validate their faith and earn the trust of the faculty, staff and students of John Wood Community College.

“Finally, I am thrilled and genuinely honored by the opportunity to return to my wife’s hometown and be a part of the community we call ‘home.’ My family and I are looking forward to relocating, being in the community and being involved. Working to expand educational opportunities for others has been my professional life’s sole principle and aim. In short, the work that each of us does at the community college is essential. Community colleges provide affordable, open-access education and training that would not otherwise be an option for many. John Wood Community College has an outstanding reputation, and I am excited about this new partnership’s possibilities. It is vital to help those searching for a better way of life to achieve their hopes and dreams. I believe we can make the world a better place through John Wood Community College. I am genuinely honored and grateful for this opportunity.”

Renfro currently works as the vice president of academic instruction at Paris Junior College in Paris, Texas. He previously served in various academic affairs leadership roles, including the associate vice provost of academic and workforce affairs at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas. He was also the dean of business and public services at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, Iowa. Throughout his career in higher education, Renfro has taught courses in anthropology, criminal justice, and education. He has a master’s degree in anthropology from the University of Arkansas and a doctorate from Iowa State University in higher education administration with an emphasis in community college leadership.

At the end of his Zoom chat, after being named JWCC’s next president, Bryan Renfro puts on his new Blazers hat.

In other business, the Board:

  • Heard a report on the JWCC Truck Driver Training program from JWCC Associate Professor of Transportation Programs Phil Steinkamp regarding regulation changes, program restructuring, enrollment and future plans for the program including the Workforce Development Expansion project.
  • Approved the Agreement and Mortgage relating to the Workforce Development Center as required by the United States Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, Chicago Regional Office, grant under the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. § 3121 et seq.) (PWEDA) pursuant to a Financial Assistance Award dated May 27, 2021 and bearing EDA Award No. 06-79-0629.
  • Accepted $274,439 in grant funds from the Illinois Community College Board for the adult education and literacy grant.
  • Accepted $4,350 in grant funds from the Illinois Green Economy Network for a security lighting upgrade project.
  • Authorized submission of a $20,000 grant application to the Illinois Board of Education for an agriculture science teachers grant.
  • Accepted $540,000 over four years for JWCC in grant funds from the U.S. Department of Labor for the Strengthening Community College Training Grants. The focus of the Illinois grant application will be competency-based education for information technology and advanced manufacturing to meet the skill development needs of employers for in-demand industries and career pathways leading to quality jobs.
  • Approved the revisions to college’s board policies manual presented (tabled item 12.2 from September 2022) which includes the recommendation that all policies be reviewed every three years.  Presented by the board sub-committee members comprised of Fischer, Hawley and Greenwell.
  • Approved the resolution and certificate abating the tax levied for the year 2022 to pay debt service on the General Obligation Refunding Bonds (Alternate Revenue Source), Series 2021C.
  • Approved the resolution regarding the intent to levy the equity adjustment for the 2022 tax year as allowed by Section 3-14.3 of the Illinois Public Community College Act.
  • Approved the resolution and certificate to levy tax for protection, health and safety projects.
  • Approved an increase of 16 percent in health insurance premiums, effective Jan. 1, 2023.
  • Approved a five-year pouring agreement with Refreshments Services Pepsi.

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