January 31, 2020 – The Pauly Group, an academic executive search firm, has recruited Adrien L. Bennings as the sixth president of Kellogg Community College (KCC) in Battle Creek, MI. She becomes the first female and African-American president at the school replacing Mark O’Connell, who has held the role since 2015. Dr. Bennings was selected from a pool of 54 candidates.
“Dr. Bennings is a dynamic, enthusiastic leader who will boldly move KCC forward and help all of us excel in our mission to provide excellent higher education to our students,” said Steve Claywell, board chair. “From the moment she arrived on campus, she has exuded an abundance of energy and focused leadership in every setting, from introducing herself to individuals to leading large sessions. The board is truly honored and excited to have Dr. Bennings at the helm of this great institution.”
Dr. Bennings previously was vice president for finance and administration at Clovis Community College in Clovis, NM. Before that, she was regional director of the Small Business Development Center at Texas Tech University where she advanced economic development initiatives in a 16-county area in northwest Texas. She started her career as an executive assistant and worked her way through many different areas of higher education.
Dr. Bennings is also a former professional track and field athlete and currently serves as a certified peer reviewer for the Higher Learning Commission, an independent corporation that is one of six regional accreditors for degree-granting, post-secondary educational institutions in the U.S.
“To have grown and learned through each of those experiences, I believe that what I bring to the table, that is very unique, is that I’ve had experience in many realms of higher education, from the support front office secretary, to the HR, to the accounting, to the small business,” Dr. Bennings said. “Having the comprehensive understanding of higher education outside of just one realm.”
Kellogg Community College, founded in 1956 by the Battle Creek board of education, serves about 8,400 students annually via five campuses, customized training and online coursework. KCC, which has sites in Battle Creek, Albion, Coldwater, Hastings and in the Fort Custer Industrial Park, offers 59 pre-professional transfer curricula; 35 associate degree programs; 28 certificate programs; six categories of professional certifications; and a variety of short-term, non-credit courses. The college was fully reaccredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools most recently in 2012.\
Recruitment of Academia Presidents Rising
Reduced state funding, rising tuition costs, soaring student debt and decreased federal research funding have all contributed to a dramatic rise in the role search firms are playing in the recruitment of university presidents and chancellors.
“We’ve just begun the year 2020,” Dr. Bennings said. “In optical terms, 20/20 also is defined as perfect vision. Let’s make 2020 a year where we learn to see things through a different lens and a different perspective, but still in perfect alignment with the mission and vision of Kellogg Community College.”
Abundance of Energy
In the coming months, Dr. Bennings intends to focus on building a strong network with community members and organizational partners, supporting the institution’s reaffirmation of accreditation with the higher learning commission, bolstering the college’s effectiveness in providing equity and inclusion for students and employees, and further developing student pathways to degrees and careers.
Established in 1990, the Pauly Group is an academic search consulting firm that works with community and technical colleges to recruit, reference and hire executive to mid-level administrators. Each of its team members is a former professional at a community and/or technical college or other higher education institution with a master’s degree from an accredited university. The firm is led by president Angela Provart, with Les Pauly serving as the company’s board chair. Ms. Provart is personally involved with every search and works closely with her team of nine consultants. The Pauly Group is based in Springfield, IL.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media