Posted Nov. 16, 8:17 p.m.

Schaffer named as next college president

Dr. Joe Schaffer

Dr.Joe Schaffer, LCCC's next permanent college president, addresses students, faculty, staff and community members during the open forum Nov. 3. Photo by Jeffrey Pallak.

Board of Trustees announces permanent college president selection

By Will Hebert

The Laramie County Community College Board of Trustees voted unanimously to appoint Dr. Joe Schaffer, current dean and CEO of Montana State University–Great Falls College of Technology in Great Falls, Mont., as the new permanent president of LCCC on Nov. 16.

Schaffer will begin his three-year contract as college president Jan. 16, 2012. His contract is for $160,000 a year and ends on June 30, 2015.

Schaffer's contract stated he will be provided temporary housing for up to 12 months at the college-owned residence at 7605 Legacy Parkway. Schaffer will receive up to $7,500 in moving expenses.

The president will be paid an "electronic device allowance" of up to $85 a month. The contract also stated the board "shall provide funding each year for reasonable expenses incurred by the president for college-related public relations."

Board of Trustees' Chairwoman Brenda Lyttle said Schaffer stood out because he was very engaging and intelligent and had a warm personality, sense of humor and the kind of leadership qualities the board sought.

"He has a very collaborative leadership style," Lyttle said. "He's very honest and forthright about himself and his vision for the college. That's the kind of leadership we wanted."

Trustee Dr. Kevin Kilty said the board received many positive comments about Schaffer from public feedback forms distributed during Schaffer's public forum on Nov. 3.

"I'm very enthusiastic about Joe Schaffer, but in reading all of those comments that came in, and there were a ton of those comments, and, of course, there was some division of opinion, I just saw the word 'love Joe Schaffer right and left,'" Kilty said. "It was love busting out all over at LCCC, and spring is still six months away."

Schaffer said during his public forum he believed Wyoming was a pro-community college state and thought LCCC was an amazing campus with great potential, which made this position seem like a natural fit.

"My personal vision is I would be able to somehow bring all of the good things that are happening here and really start to elevate them, so that everybody's aware of that and then also that they can capitalize on each other to move forward," Schaffer said.

Earlier, the LCCC Faculty Senate announced its endorsement of Schaffer.

Board of Trustees Vice Chair Greg Thomas said one of the attributes that made Schaffer stand out positively was his age.

"I think one of the things, for me, is I did want a president that was probably a little bit younger, had a little bit more of a relationship to the students and felt that would be one of the things that we need here at LCCC," Thomas said. "We've done a lot of things on our own here the last year, and we're really looking forward to having somebody kind of carry the flag, at least in certain areas, for us."

Thomas said no candidate could garner 100 percent of the college's support, but he felt Schaffer would be able to find the support from the college's different constituents.

Schaffer earned a doctor of education degree with emphasis on educational leadership from the University of Montana's Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences in Missoula, Mont. He also earned a master's degree in technical communication from Montana Tech, a bachelor's degree in wild land recreation resource management with a minor in wildlife biology from the University of Montana and an associate of arts degree from Bemidji State University in Bemidji, Minn.

During the past nine years he held different positions at the college, including director of outreach, assistant dean of outreach and workforce development, associate dean of workforce programs and chief academic officer. In 2008, he was appointed interim dean and CEO and was permanently appointed CEO in May 2009.

More than 30 candidates were considered, and the college's presidential search committee narrowed the list to a few candidates, who were interviewed in Denver. Schaffer was selected as one of three finalists, who were announced Oct. 17. Schaffer, Dr. Cheri Jimeno and Dr. Luke Robins visited the college Oct. 26–Nov 3. During their visits, the candidates toured the Laramie and Albany campuses of LCCC, participated in public forums and were interviewed by the trustees.

Trustee Kilty said the board was assisted greatly in deciding to hire Schaffer.

"We had a great deal of help in this decision and also in looking for good candidates for LCCC, both from Marty Cizek and also from Miles LaRowe (interim LCCC president), and I think both of them deserve huge thanks from the college community and the community at large, because they were just essential to the process," Kilty said.

Chairwoman Lyttle said in an email to the college Nov. 4 every board member received copies of public comment sheets filled out at the candidates' public forums and received input from groups around campus.

"We have extensive reference checks and comments to read from. We will make this decision somberly, knowing we have been entrusted with this important decision for our college and our community," Lyttle said in the email.

The position of permanent president became vacant in December 2010 when LCCC President Dr. Darrel Hammon resigned.

In February, the college hired LaRowe as interim president to assist in the search for a new president, among other duties.

Archived footage of the events may be viewed at Wingspan's Ustream channel.