By Chris McGuinness
Killeen Daily Herald
As Central Texas College students settle into the second week of classes, outgoing Chancellor James “Jim” Anderson will end his nearly 25-year tenure as the community college’s top administrator.
Replacing the retiring Anderson, whose last day on the job is today, is incoming Chancellor Tom Klincar, who arrived in mid-January.
In a joint interview, the two administrators discussed the college’s first leadership change in more than two decades and the educational issues the institution will face in the coming years.
“(The transition’s) going terrific. I expect the process will be very smooth for everyone,” said Anderson. “When that first day comes, he’ll already have met all the key people, and he’ll be able to hit the ground running.”
‘Very productive’ meetings
During the leadership transition, Klincar has met with the college’s senior staffers and faculty and several leaders in the local education community.
Klincar said the “very productive” meetings are a critical part of the transition process. “I was able to have these two weeks, and it’s really given me insight into how we operate,” he said. “It’s like a marriage, you want to make that relationship work after the honeymoon is over.”
As Klincar takes the reins, he faces one immediate administrative issue. Anderson said many of the college’s overseas contracts are up for renewal this year.
With the U.S. Army planning to reduce its troop levels by 2017, Anderson said the college must prepare to meet that challenge.
“If you’re going to take 80,000 troops out of the Army, and we teach 40 percent of the soldiers, you do the math,” he said.
Growing enrollment key
Both Klincar and Anderson said one of the major keys to the college’s future success will be growing enrollment and programs at the Killeen campus.
The outgoing chancellor emphasized that the college will need to continue building relationships with local school districts and the Texas A&M University-Central Texas.
“We need to continue to get more high school graduates in Central Texas to make the choice to come to (the college),” said Anderson. “By continuing a strong relationship with (TAMUCT), students have a four-year package. They come to (the college) for two years and can make a transition to (TAMUCT) and get the four-year degree.”
Klincar agreed with Anderson, adding that he would focus on communicating the low cost of tuition and the high quality of education the community college offers.
“We have a unique opportunity to reach out to residents, and let them know you don’t have to send you son, daughter, niece or nephew off and drain your family’s finances to give them a good education,” said Klincar. “We need to let people know that the educational opportunities we offer are some of the best in the world.”
The incoming chancellor also said he would particularly like to reach out to potential first-generation college students.
“The people we need to reach are those (whose) parents didn’t go to college, but they had a dream about having chance at a better life,” he said. “We want to be there to open doors for them and give them that opportunity.”
Klincar said he would work to make the college experience more accessible to such first-generation students.
“It takes a lot of courage for (a first-generation college) student to walk through that door,” said Klincar. “We want them to know that we are here to help and that we are friendly, accessible and affordable.”
Anderson said he was confident that he was leaving the college in good hands with Klincar.
“He’s a good man,” said Anderson. “I have a lot of faith in him.”