“Education veteran will lead JCCC until president is hired”

The following article appeared in The Kansas City Business Journal.

“Education veteran will lead JCCC until president is hired”
June 30, 2006
Gabriella Souza

The Johnson County Community College board of trustees has named Larry Tyree as interim president. He will take the helm July 5 and serve while the college searches for a permanent president.

Tyree comes to the Kansas City area after retiring in the spring as a professor at the University of Florida. He also is president emeritus of Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Fla., where he served from 1990 to 2001. In 2002, the community college named its library in honor of Tyree.

Tyree said he hasn’t decided whether to pursue the position permanently because it is “a way down the road.” Lynn Mitchelson, vice chairman of the board, said the person who steps into that role will have big shoes to fill. JCCC made significant strides under Charles Carlsen, who retired as president in April after 25 years with the college. Enrollment increased from 6,000 when he took office to more than 18,000 in the fall, making it the state’s third-largest higher education institution.

The college experienced some turmoil in the spring, when the campus newspaper published reports that Carlsen allegedly had sexually harassed an employee in 2003. Carlsen voluntarily retired, stating that he had done nothing wrong but that the issue had become a distraction to the college’s education mission.

“My sense is that there are communications, trust and morale issues, but I won’t know that until I get there,” Tyree said. Mitchelson said that the board wants to hire a new president quickly but that because Carlsen was such a “visionary,” it probably would take some time. He said the board wants to hire a new president by the spring of 2007.

In the meantime, Mitchelson said, the college has a well-qualified interim president. He said Tyree stood out because of his breadth of experience at the community college level and his success in the field.

Tyree said he was drawn to JCCC because of its high quality of service and personnel and its effective work with the community to develop the economy.

Katherine Gratto, graduate coordinator for the education administration and policy department at the University of Florida, said Tyree’s selection did not surprise her because of his extensive knowledge of the education system.

“He’s a very humble man,” Gratto said. “He never talks about himself. He gets uncomfortable when anyone makes a fuss over him.”

Mitchelson said Tyree’s main task will be to bring stability to the administration. Tyree also will oversee completion of the Regnier Center for Technology and Business and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art.