By BOB OLIVER
DEARBORN — New Henry Ford Community College President Stan Jensen is taking over the college at a difficult financial time, but is still excited to get started.
Jensen was present at his first HFCC Board of Trustees meeting May 20 and began his time as president by outlining for the board his goals for the school’s future.
“We will be focused on our students and student success,” Jensen said.
He said school employees and officials need to remember why they school exists and the things that will never change, such as their service to students and the community.
“We strive for excellence,” Jensen said. “We don’t want to aim for perfection because it is not attainable, but someone is number one in the state and the nation. It might as well be us.”
Jensen was the candidate chosen for president out of a field of 54. The field gradually narrowed to six, where a vote by the HFCC Board had Jensen receiving the most votes. A final vote was taken at a special meeting on April 3 with the board approving Jensen 5-1 as the next president for the college.
He previously served as president and CEO of Colorado Mountain College, which is ranked first in Colorado and 17th in the nation for student success, as measured by graduation and transfer rates. He left the college in December after more than four years as president.
In his time there, Jensen focused on strategic planning for college growth, program development, resource development, strategic technology adoption and leadership.
Jensen’s contract went into effect on May 1, but he has only been in the area since mid-May. He said he has spent the time “meeting a lot of people in the community and seeing how big of an impact the college has in it.”
He also has spent time going through the school’s budget and meeting with the HFCC Board’s Finance Committee to discuss the current financial situation. HFCC is looking at a $16.6 million shortfall for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
Board President Pam Adams said she had explained the financial situation to Jensen when he was selected as the board’s candidate for the position and that he was not intimidated by it.
“I was totally blunt about our financial situation,” Adams said. “We did not want him to sign the contract and then be surprised by this. But even after knowing the situation he decided to come to HFCC.”
Jensen addressed the financial situation himself and said that hard work was ahead of the board and him.
“We are going to face some difficult financial times,” Jensen said. “This is our bull to wrestle down. I’m ready.”
Adams and Jensen also praised former HFCC President Gail Mee for her six years of service to the college.
“In her time here she made significant contributions that will have a long-term benefits for the college,” Adams said. “We appreciate everything she accomplished here and we wish her the best.”
(Bob Oliver can be reached at [email protected])