Meet MTC’s New Interim President
The Marion Technical College Board of Trustees selected Dr. John Erwin to serve as interim president after the retirement of Dr. Richard Bryson after 42 years.
Dr. Erwin has been in higher education for more than 30 years, starting as a history professor before moving into administration He taught at a variety of community and technical colleges before retiring as president of Illinois Central College this spring after 15 years.
The Board of Trustees selected Dr. Erwin to provide a smooth transition while the search for a new president is underway. He is charged with improving communication with employees; focusing on student success; and promoting inclusiveness and transparency during his tenure. Instead of telling you about Dr. Erwin, we wanted to let you hear directly from him.
What is the biggest lesson you learned in your previous experience as a community college president?
Life’s all about relationships. The college is only as strong as its people. I’m very much a person who values each person on staff. You will find me relating to everyone who works there and identifying their contribution. My role is to help optimize their skills and their work.
What is your vision for MTC?
My vision is to help MTC obtain a long-term president. I will be working with the board, staff, and faculty to create a positive platform for the appointment of the next president. I have 15 years of experience as a president that will help us bridge the appointment for the next president and help that person be successful.
I just want to be a part of MTC’s history and build it up, and continue its mission of providing quality, affordable education and prove why it is the best choice for learning.
What are you excited about with this opportunity?
There are several reasons. I served Cincinnati Sate Technical College. I have a background of applied learning and internship and workforce preparation. Marion Technical College exemplifies all of that for me. This is a very good fit as far as my own approach to education.
What would Marion be surprised to learn about you?
I have been an ordained minister for 36 years.
One thing that really influenced me a great deal to move toward administration was time I spent working with Mother Teresa’s missions in Calcutta in 1994. I worked in a hospice for the terminally ill; I worked in an asylum with those who were mentally and emotionally challenged; and I worked in a leper colony. I had two very direct conversations with Mother Teresa. I was writing a manuscript called “Dreams and History.” She invited me to do the volunteer service. She gave me 45 minutes of conversation and I promised her three weeks of volunteer work.
Mother Teresa challenged me. She asked what I was doing to optimize my gifts and graces. I felt that I had not done as much as I could do in my life. I applied for a dean position and Ive never looked back. I wanted to assist and help people. I wanted to take on more responsibility.
I’m committed to the technical college mission and helping and assisting students in improving their quality of life – from getting that next job to looking at their next step in education. Students and graduates apply what they’ve learned at MTC to move on in life. It’s not all about a degree – sometimes it’s not about a certification. Sometimes it’s about maturing and discovering how to help others.
How will you get to know the Marion community?
I will do it through relationship building. There are already wonderful relationships built by employees, faculty, and staff I want to be a part of that. I will take the appropriate steps to learn more about the Marion community, learn more about MTC, and lean on our team. I want to tie together where there are strengths and partnerships and do some bridge building. I hope this will make it safe for the new president to walk in and tackle the challenges that MTC may be facing.
What is MTC’s biggest challenge?
It’s the same challenge that two-year technical colleges and university partners are facing: enrollment and budget. I’m up to addressing that with staff and hopefully we will have in place a balanced budget as we go into the next year and promote MTC as a wonderful place for education.
What is your favorite book?
“Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens. I am fascinated by the journey of Pip’s experiences in life altering his directions. In addition I love reading mysteries such as Jeffery Deaver, John Sanford, and Greg Iles.
What are some of your favorite movies?
I love classics including “African Queen” with Katherine Hepburn. I also enjoy “The Hunger Games” series. I love the dynamic of the female protagonist (Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence) overcoming the obstacles of losing hearth and home and facing obsessive power and control. It can be inspirational to a lot of people.
What is your favorite sport?
Basketball is the sport I love the most and have the deepest appreciation for. I was a men’s college basketball coach. I enjoy all the major sports, from high school to professional sports. To learn more about Dr. Erwin, go to www.mtc.edu