For the retiring Roy Church, being honored June 23 by the Wellington school board and Kiwanis Club was not just another stop on his farewell tour.
Church, the fifth and longest-serving president of Lorain County Community College, announced his retirement last fall after 30 years as a leading proponent of education in Northeast Ohio.
“What’s wonderful about this to me is I’ve made a big commitment during my 30 years here to really become part of all the communities in Lorain County,” said Church. “Today tells me that I succeeded in Wellington. They asked me here just to say thank you and it doesn’t get better than that. Wellington is a very special community. It’s great to see folks I’ve worked with over a long period of time together here in one place. I’ve always been privileged to be welcomed here.”
Schools superintendent Dennis Mock and Kiwanis president Morris Furcron presented Church with a plaque recognizing his contributions to economic and educational development in the county.
Board of education member Ayers Ratliff introduced Church before the presentation.
“He has what I call the Elvis Presley syndrome in that he has charisma and you like the guy right off the bat with little effort,” said Ratliff. “Since we’re about a week out from his retirement, we’re some of the last people on his list that he’ll be talking to.”
Enrollment at LCCC has grown from 9,000 to more than 15,000 since Church’s arrival in 1987.
Ratliff highlighted some of Church’s achievements, including 26,288 associate’s degrees being conferred since 1987. The University Partnership that Church helped create, in which students can use credits earned at LCCC toward degrees at colleges such as Bowling Green and Cleveland State University, has aided students in receiving more than 5,000 bachelor and graduate degrees in the same time period.
In his speech, Church laid out the timeline of how and why community colleges were instituted in America and the growing challenge for students and workers to adapt to ever-changing technology.
“You really have to put the college in perspective,” he said. “These institutions are a result of what happened in World War II. An entire generation of Americans left agricultural America and came back a decade later to industrial America. Manufacturing was a whole different enterprise after the war and so were the skills needed to make it in the workforce. President Truman put a commission together to address access to higher education. The innovation they came up with was to create geographically-based higher education access points. They said we’re going to put an institution like this in every population center and make them available to anyone with a high school diploma. They need to be able to go when they’re 22, 42, or 62.”
In a slideshow, Church illustrated how LCCC has helped Lorain County in his time as president, including:
• LCCC students transferring out to University Partnership schools have a higher average GPA (3.11) than students who begin college at those schools (2.78).
• LCCC scored the highest among all Ohio community colleges in earnings for graduates in a recent report by the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings.
• The U.S. Department of Education identified LCCC as having the lowest net tuition price ($3,137) of any Ohio college and 38th lowest in the nation.
“Dr. Church been such an educational leader in the county for so long and he’s done a marvelous job,” said Kiwanis president Morris Furcron. “We owed it to him to let him know how we feel about his work. I went to school at LCCC for some courses that I needed too.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Photos by Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise Wellington Schools superintendent Dennis Mock and board member Ayers Ratliff thank retiring LCCC president Roy Church for his contributions to education.