The benefits the Cedar Valley receives from Hawkeye Community College have expanded immensely during the past 50 years.
And current HCC President Linda Allen certainly has done her part. Her tenure there, however, soon will be coming to an end. Last week, Allen announced her retirement — effective June 30 — during an interview with The Courier.
She cited spending time with family as one of the major reasons for retiring — along with the knowledge HCC is in pretty good shape.
“I believe the college is in a really good position,” Allen said. “We’re well-positioned for the future.”
Much of that promising future is due to the passage of a $25 million bond issue referendum from 2015, in which her efforts were instrumental. That passage has enabled the expansion of facilities and opportunities.
Allen has been adept at forging and maintaining community partnerships that benefit those seeking an education, as well as the community at large. As president, she has overseen the downtown construction of the Van G. Miller Adult Learning Center, which will see its first classes open later this month.
The 2015 bond issue helped fund the nearly $13 million, three-story downtown center, which replaces the smaller Metro and Martin Luther King Jr. centers. It is located along Jefferson Street between First Street and Mullan Avenue. The center has also helped the city in downtown redevelopment efforts.
Allen said the center is “emblematic of everything we do to try and serve the people in our community who need us most.”
Her tenure has also been marked by the expansion of high school career programs developed in partnership with school districts from across the college’s 10-county service area. It’s a partnership that seeks to supply capable people into the local and state workforce in needed jobs — a critical component of economic development.
HCC is seeing through its multiyear plan to train 2,400 high school students for technical jobs in construction, transportation, health care and advanced manufacturing jobs by 2020.
Allen began leading the college on an interim basis in September 2010. Seven months later, the HCC board named her president, succeeding Greg Schmitz. Previously, she had served as vice president of academic affairs at the college since 2006.
Over the past several years, the Cedar Valley has been reaping benefits of community partnerships of which HCC has been a vital component.
“She’s been a great president for us,” said Jay Nardini, chairman of Hawkeye’s board of trustees. “We’re sorry to see her retire. We respect her decision and we wish her the best in her retirement. She has been an excellent leader, well-recognized in the state and nationally.”
Indeed, Allen was the recipient of the 2015 National Chief Executive Officer Award from the Association of Community College Trustees. She became eligible for that national award after receiving the 2015 Central Region Chief Executive Officer Award. The association’s central region includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada.
Nominees were evaluated based on their development of innovative programs, demonstration of caring attitude for the college community and overall outstanding characteristics.
We too will be sorry to see her leave the college. Allen has always been open and available to our reporters and editorial board and has been forthcoming with ideas and collaborations. But we also support her decision and wish her well when that retirement date comes up.
We also feel a need to mention the HCC board, which recognized the value of Allen’s leadership, as they installed her as interim president in 2010 and then turned the reins over to her on a permanent basis. She was already in demand. In 2009, she was one of five finalists for president of South Arkansas Community College in El Dorado, Ark.
“There’s no doubt in the board’s mind that we got the best possible candidate for Hawkeye Community College,” said then-HCC board of trustees chairman Mark Birdnow. “We had the perfect candidate right in our backyard.”
We thank Linda Allen, in advance, for her leadership as president at Hawkeye Community College, and her previous service in other capacities. Based on our past dealings, we know she will work tirelessly until her last day as HCC’s president.
And we wish the board the best of luck in the search for the college’s next leader.