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Dr. David Sam

Dr. David Sam: “The Optimist”

2007 to 2024

Growing up in Ghana, Dr. Sam always had a passion for learning.

With deep admiration for those who have shaped the college over its 75-year history, Dr. Sam expresses, "It's an outstanding institution with valuable resources and a rich history upon which we can build."

Dr. Sam, who spearheaded the College’s endeavors, played a pivotal role in the passage of a $178 million capital referendum in 2009. This significant achievement has been instrumental in transforming the campus into a cutting-edge, state-of-the-art learning environment.

Furthermore, under Dr. Sam's leadership, ECC's financial stability and prudent fiscal management have garnered prestigious accolades. Since 2009, the College has maintained a coveted AAA rating from Moody's Investor Services and, since 2010, an AA+ rating from Standard & Poor’s. These accolades underscore the institution's commitment to excellence and robust financial standing.

Michael Shirley

Michael S. Shirley: “Improving Lives Through Learning”

1998 to 2006

Michael Shirley had a profound concern for Illinois High School Diploma (GED) graduates, particularly those adult students with teenagers.

Apart from Gil Renner, he aspired to be remembered as the only president to be promoted from within the college.

Shirley had a forward-looking perspective. He revamped the planning committee to focus on the 2020 building plan.

Carole Akemann, the Director of Marketing and Public Information, reminisces about Shirley as "the planner and continuous improvement champion, recognizing the importance of strategic, long-term thinking and planning."

In terms of achievements, Michael Shirley considered leaving the college in a better state than he found it to be his greatest accomplishment.

Roy Flores

Roy Flores: “The Technology President”

1994 to 1998

As the inaugural ethnically diverse leader, Dr. Flores set a groundbreaking path.

In his opening address, Dr. Flores expressed, "ECC boasts a rich tradition of excellence, widely acknowledged for its exceptional academic programs and community service. Our duty is to educate a diverse student body, employing new technologies like distance learning and other innovations to enhance and broaden our instructional methods."

Dr. Flores guided the college through a comprehensive planning and priority-setting initiative to establish a technology infrastructure, linking each building through fiber-optic cable.

Ensuring the upgrade of all computers, he granted Internet access to every staff and faculty member.

Proactively, Flores assembled a team of faculty, staff, and administrators to attend a major technology conference in higher education. They aimed to glean insights and collectively explore the direction Elgin Community College could pursue.

Under Flores' leadership, the college became one of the pioneering Illinois community colleges to provide online classes.

Today, the impact of Internet-based classes, dual enrollment programs, and the Youth Leadership Academy continues to shape the trajectory of ECC.

Paul Heath

Paul Heath: “The Builder”

1987 to 1994

Throughout Paul Heath's seven-year tenure as President of Elgin Community College, the institution witnessed unprecedented growth and expansion, reminiscent of the recent developments in the late 1960s. Under his visionary leadership, enrollment surged by an impressive 69%, marking a significant milestone in the college's history.

President Heath spearheaded the implementation of thirteen new occupational programs, enriching the educational offerings and aligning them with the evolving needs of students and the job market. Simultaneously, he was pivotal in initiating the ambitious $48 million expansion of the main campus, a transformative endeavor to enhance facilities and accommodate the burgeoning student population.

He expressed gratitude for the community's fantastic response in his farewell message and shared optimism about ECC's bright future.

Searle Charles

Dr. Searle F. Charles: “The Healer”

1982 to 1987

Previously an executive director in the Connecticut higher education system, Dr. Searle Charles assumed a crucial role at Elgin Community College. The Board entrusted him with specific tasks, including negotiating the inaugural union contracts, establishing a foundation, reducing administration by 10%, and securing the passage of a crucial referendum.

Upon Dr. Charles's arrival at ECC, the college faced financial challenges, resorting to selling advertising for the first time in its history to fund class schedules. Driven by a commitment to financial stability, he led successful negotiations between faculty, support staff, and the Board. Additionally, he played a pivotal role in forming a foundation, ensuring the college's solid financial footing.

As Dr. Searle Charles approached retirement, he reflected on his time at Elgin Community College, expressing deep satisfaction. He noted that his experience at ECC ranked among the most fulfilling in his professional career, second only to his years as a teacher.

Mark Hopkins

Dr. Mark L. Hopkins “Lightning Rod”

1975 to 1982

Mark Hopkins, a dynamic and proactive individual, served as the President of Elgin Community College from 1975 to 1982. Always championing the best interests of the college and its faculty, Hopkins was recalled by Lynn Willett as a transformative force who altered the college's trajectory.

During his presidency, Hopkins undertook two crucial tasks: giving greater attention to the Latino community and enhancing community outreach. Under his leadership, the Community Outreach for Placement and Assessment (COPA) was established, fostering collaboration with Latino and other minority communities.

A key focus for Hopkins was securing grants. He recognized that ECC had not received its fair share of federal and state grants, so he aimed for improvement. His outreach strategy involved leveraging non-credit community education to promote the college and boost credit enrollment.

Hopkins achieved significant milestones, including implementing 20 new instructional programs, securing $3 million in grants, and doubling the college's enrollment. His energetic approach left a lasting impact on Elgin Community College during a pivotal period in its history.

Robert Appel

Dr. Robert L. Appel, Jr “Transitional Leader”

1971 to 1975

On September 27, 1971, Robert L. Appel secured the presidency of Elgin Community College, a pivotal moment marked by the unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees.

With a notable background as a gunnery officer in the Navy during WWII, Appel brought his leadership experience to ECC. Even at the college, he maintained his rank as captain in the Naval Reserve, embodying a commitment to service and discipline.

Under his guidance, ECC established the first joint education agreement in Illinois, facilitating the exchange of programs like ECC’s Dental Assisting with Waubonsee Community College's Automotive Program. He annexed school districts 301 and 303 to solidify Community College District 509's boundaries. He also inaugurated multiple student service offices, including Financial Aid, Job Placement, and Student Activities, fostering an environment conducive to student success. Robert Appel's leadership legacy at Elgin Community College is a testament to his dedication to education and the welfare of the college community.

Gil Renner

Gil Renner “Mr. Elgin Community College”

1950 to 1971

Gilbert Renner, a distinguished figure and former President of Elgin Community College (ECC), left an indelible mark on the institution. Renner, well-known in the community, brought a wealth of experience from his background as a high school teacher and active involvement in organizations like the YMCA and Church.

Renner was pivotal in the community college movement, serving as Vice-President in 1954 and subsequently President of the Illinois Association of Junior Colleges (IAJC) in 1955. His dedication extended beyond administrative roles, earning him widespread respect from faculty members and students.

Former ECC teacher Mike Alft fondly remembered Renner as a remarkable leader who was self-effacing, genuinely interested in students, and demonstrated unwavering respect for the faculty. Renner's influence also reached beyond ECC, as evidenced by Don Green, who, inspired by Renner's character and integrity, transitioned to ECC under Renner's guidance.

Gilbert Renner's legacy at ECC is characterized by his commitment to education, strong leadership, and the lasting impact he had on the college community.