Interim President/CEO Says MCTC on Steady Course in Tough Times
Now past the six-month point of his indefinite stint as interim president/CEO, Russ Ward is confident that Maysville Community and Technical College remains on a steady course, despite the coronavirus pandemic and other challenges.
MCTC’s search for a new president was paused recently because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. KCTCS officials are hopeful it can be restarted this spring.
Ward’s regular job is chief operations officer, overseeing the physical plants of the college’s campuses in Cynthiana, Maysville, Morehead, and Mt. Sterling. He became MCTC’s interim chief executive on July 1 and will serve until a new president/CEO is appointed, hopefully by the end of the spring semester or soon thereafter.
“My three primary goals in accepting this temporary position were to keep us on task in our academic mission, to help our college community stay as safe as possible from COVID-19 and to encourage everyone to work with purpose and a positive attitude,” he said. “I’m very pleased that 99 percent of our students and faculty and staff members are following strict safety protocols in the pandemic, that our academic programs remain on track and that we’re doing it in a positive environment.”
Ward says the occasional slipup by individuals, primarily related to face masks and social distancing, is due to the fact that many MCTC constituents simply are “COVID-tired” after 10 months of restrictions on their lives.
“We have a strong leadership team in place and they have maintained a great attitude about the need for everyone to stay safe,” Ward added. “Leading by example never goes out of style and that’s how they have responded to the pandemic, to the needs of our students and employees, and the communities we serve in this region.”
MCTC’s enrollment is down slightly for the year, like most of the institutions in KCTCS, but not as much as some two-year schools.
“Our people have been creative in class scheduling, especially with technology, and in finding financial help for those students struggling to stay in school in these tough economic times, much like others do with the institutional budget,” he stated. “Grants, federal relief monies and private giving are a big help but we must become more entrepreneurial going forward to make up for years of declining state support.”
Ward says the new state budget proposed by Gov. Andy Beshear could have a very positive impact on public higher education’s financial future, at least for the next fiscal year.
He says he has serious concern about the cost of constantly changing technology in the workplace.
“Community and technical colleges have primary responsibility in this state for training or retraining much of the workforce, but that will be much more difficult if we can’t keep up in developing new programs that embrace evolving technology in the job market,” he added.
Ward describes himself as a “servant leader” because he takes a hands-on approach to getting things done, a trait he found very useful as chief operations officer. His work experience includes being a staff member, faculty member, and senior administrator at two different community and technical colleges.
“I’ve never been afraid to get my hands dirty or to break a sweat,” he quipped.
Ward says today his focus is on keeping people informed, making sure they are safe and getting MCTC ready for a new president.