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KCTCS announces finalists in president search amid uncertain future

Kentucky Community and Technical College System

Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) continues the search for its next president. The search is happening as the school system awaits a feasibility study from the Council on Postsecondary Education regarding separating KCTCS technical and general education programs.

The current finalists for president are Dr. Dean McCurdy, Dr. Beverly Walker-Griffea and Dr. Ryan Quarles. McCurdy is the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. Walker-Griffea is known for navigating the Flint water crisis as President of Mott Community College in Flint, Michigan. Quarles is the Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture and a former GOP gubernatorial candidate.

Hannah Rivera is the Chief of Staff, Board and Government Liaison for KCTCS. She said the three candidates will undergo a thorough interview process with the entire system’s involvement.

“They will be there over a two or three day, depending on their schedule, time frame. September 26 through the 28. Those visits will really contain three components: a meeting with the President’s cabinet and the sixteen college presidents, a virtual Q&A with all faculty and staff across the system, and then the final board of regents interview with the full board,” said Rivera.

The eventual president may be tasked with leading KCTCS through a large transition. The college system currently awaits a recommendation from the state legislature through Senate Joint Resolution 98, which will decide whether KCTCS’s technical and general education programs will separate or remain joined. Rivera said the institution believes keeping the general and technical tracts together would be best for students as they move into the workforce or other educational programs.

“We think that general education is part of any training or technical training that you receive. For instance, every welder has to know math, and if you want to go see a nurse, you would hope that she would have some general science background. We don’t see parsing those as a benefit. Doing so would really revert us back to where we were before 1997, with our creation,” said Rivera.

KCTCS has been without a president since early 2023. It is currently under the leadership of acting president Dr. Larry Ferguson, also the president of Ashland Community and Technical College. The future for KCTCS is uncertain, and Rivera said electing a new president is more important than ever.

“Bringing a strong leader right now, to help us navigate our future with the legislature and with our external stakeholders, it’s really a time that we need a visionary, again, as I said, and a unifier for the system,” said Rivera.

Officials aim to solidify the final selection for KCTCS president by September 29.