Two years ago on Sept. 29, 2012, Dr. Thomas Baynum officially became the 14th President of Black Hawk College. He replaced the former president, Dr. Richard Underbakke, who held the position for just ten months before resigning. After two years of employment at Black Hawk College, Dr. Baynum stepped down from the position in July, opting not to renew his contract that would not have expired until December.
Dr. Bettie Truitt, who was formerly both Vice President for Instruction and Student Services and Executive Vice President, adopted the responsibilities of the college president when Dr. Baynum stepped down. One of her biggest challenges since taking the role has been making sure that the role she left behind was filled and the progress she has made continues.
“Dr. Lee Weimer, who was one of my deans, very graciously agreed to come into that interim position,” said Dr. Truitt in an interview with the Chieftain. “Lee Weimer is the interim Vice President for Instruction and Student Services and Michelle Johnson, who was a past department chair in the communication and fine arts area, became the dean.”
Although one of her primary goals is making certain that all in-house positions are filled, the largest vacated position is expected to take a while longer. In a requested update, the Board of Trustees said that Dr. Truitt can expect to hold the position of President Interim from anywhere between six months to one year. Although no candidates have been found for the position just yet, the careful search continues.
“I think it’s very fair to say that they are in the process of looking at options in the search [for a new president],” she said. “The board does have concerns with hiring an individual that would be a good fit for the institution. I know they are keeping in mind characteristics for that individual that would make them successful in that position.”
President Interim Truitt voiced her support for the board, as well. Saying that she “trust[s] the board to make certain that they are exploring all avenues to be sure that Black Hawk College gets the highest quality candidate that it deserves,” and that she expects updates on the search in the upcoming months.
Other than filling absent positions, Dr. Truitt has a few other goals for the college. “What I’m trying to do right now is make certain that BHC has an excellent face in the community–that’s a good portion of my goal,” she said. This involves strategic planning, continuing projects such as the construction on the new Health Sciences Center, and ensuring that Black Hawk College is offering the educational programs that the community desires.