WATERLOO – Greg Schmitz has grown professionally since leaving Hawkeye Community College’s presidency nearly nine years ago.
Schmitz talked of learning about leadership as well as how to expand programs and enrollment Wednesday evening in making the case that the board of trustees should rehire him for his old job. And, as the only one of the four finalists who currently lives in the area, he’s very familiar with the community.
“I think I’ll be able to hit the ground running,” he told the trustees.
Schmitz, of rural New Hartford, spent a full day in meetings, open forums and the hour-long board interview accompanied by his wife, Lisa. The last of the four candidates will be on campus today.
Already, Hawkeye’s field of finalists has been narrowed to three. Iowa Valley Community College District Wednesday announced on its website that Kristie Fisher has been named chancellor of the system, based in Marshalltown. Schmitz was also a candidate for that job.
Trustees began their search for a new president when Linda Allen announced in January that she plans on retiring by June 30 after eight years in the position. Allen had been Hawkeye’s vice president of academic affairs and was named to the top post after Schmitz left in 2010 to become president of VGM Education.
Since 2016, he has been president of CVT Group in Cedar Falls, which works with care facilities on a range of issues from administrator support to software solutions. He is also vice president of Eagle View Partners, which develops, acquires and operates real estate properties.
The 58-year-old Raymond native and graduate of Wartburg College in Waverly has a doctorate in educational leadership and a master’s degree in higher education from Iowa State University.
Schmitz described himself as a results-oriented leader who believes in empowering those who work for him. “I like to set the goals, I like to create the strategy,” he said, and give others “as much responsibility as they want to take.”
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His communication and management styles are collaborative and inclusive, he said. “That’s developed over years of watching and learning.”
Schmitz began his career as an accountant and first worked in an education setting when he became executive director of administrative services at Waterloo Community Schools in 1997.
“That’s really where the lights went on for me,” he said. “I was really able to realize the value of community there.”
Five years later, he became Hawkeye’s vice president of administration and finance. Schmitz served as the college’s interim president and was appointed to the top job by the board in 2005. He wasn’t initially part of the search, but was named president after the board’s choice dropped out of the running.
“The area I needed to learn about was academics,” said Schmitz, who earned his doctorate while serving as president.
Taking the job with VGM Group after being recruited by founder Van Miller was “an opportunity again to challenge myself,” he told trustees.
“People ask me ‘Why did you leave education?’ I didn’t leave education,” he said during one of the open forums. At VGM, Schmitz led the company’s online continuing education division.
“Van wanted me to join his executive team and he also wanted to create a national education team,” he said.
“Some things were missing for me,” Schmitz admitted, including being on a campus with faculty and students. “I miss that interaction with students.”