Dr. Judy Mitchell became the official president of Joliet Junior College in an inauguration ceremony held at the college Wednesday night. JJC covers seven counties, including Grundy County which had a significant representation at the ceremony.
JJC is a member of the Grundy County Chamber and has representation on the Chamber’s board. Amy Murphy, Director of Corporate and Community Services, is currently the Chamber board’s Vice Chairman.
Since her interim appointment Mitchell has become a regular visitor to Grundy County and the community was excited for JJC’s official opening of the Morris Education Center recently where Mitchell expressed that Grundy County was a priority for JJC.
Last night, Mitchell spoke about her own inspiring story working her way up through the college while continuing her education. She also spoke about her four pillars of success including: ensuring fiscal responsibility and a stable budget, focusing on academic programming to meet the needs of a diverse student body and an ever-changing society, increasing graduation and retention rates, and focusing on community and legislative engagement and philanthropic outreach.
Mitchell is no stranger to the college having worked there for 20 years as well as earning an associate degree in microcomputers for business and computer programming in 1998. She started as an administrative assistant in the CIOS department in 1996 and is now the college’s president. On her journey to the presidency, she went on to receive her doctorate in community college leadership from the National-Louis University, her master’s degree in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in business and technology from Governors State University.
“…What can I do each and every day to give back to the institution who gave so much to me? Let me start by saying this: Joliet Junior College will be the first choice,” said Mitchell during her speech in which she went into detail on her four pillars of success.
She spoke about the uncertainty of the Illinois state budget and how JJC only received 24% of their allotted state funding. Under Mitchell’s leadership, the college was able to identify $6.5 million in contingency items that they will continue to hold onto to avoid a potential deficit. She also spoke about JJC and its economic impact. According to data from an economic impact report from Northern Illinois University, 86% of graduates in the class of 2011 stayed in Illinois to start their careers which is higher than the national average of 77%.
“Quite simply, educated residents drive employment and economic development,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell’s second pillar focused on academic programming and trying to meet the needs of students. She is working with the academic affairs team to ensure classes are helping students learn skills they will need in the workforce. That includes repackaging of certain courses and offering online classes.
“Do you remember the educational philosophy that every student has the right to fail? Not at JJC. They have a right to succeed,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell’s third pillar focused on increasing graduation rates. Over the past five years the college has increased their graduation rates by 34.7%. The college is currently working with money from a $2.1 million grant to improve student engagement and lay out a path for student achievement. Mitchell’s fourth pillar focused on community and legislative engagement and outreach. The college continues to work with local companies to develop courses that produce skilled workers.
“It is my hope to lead the college into the next chapter advocating for student success, growing access to education for all, cultivating innovation, fostering opportunities and impacting our communities and you in long-lasting, meaningful ways,” said Mitchell.