Resignation announced in March to head Virginia CC system
DEARBORN –– The Henry Ford College Board of Trustees and President Russell Kavalhuna agreed to a new contract June 28.
Kavalhuna announced in March that he was leaving to become the chancellor of the Virginia Community College System. His last day at HFC was to have been June 30.
“President Kavalhuna has been an outstanding leader through some very difficult times,” HFC Board President Roxanne McDonald said. “We are pleased to continue our positive working relationship that has served the HFC community well. The board fully supports the strategic plan that was developed under Russ’ leadership, and we look forward to seeing it come to fruition.”
Kavalhuna released the following statement:
“I am grateful for the Board of Trustees’ support of my request to remain at Henry Ford College, where we are singularly focused on student success. I am passionate about supporting students because our classrooms are the gateway to the American Dream, as public education was for my immigrant father.
“I was honored to be asked to apply to be the chancellor of the Virginia Community College System. This posed a difficult decision because of my devotion to Henry Ford College and our student-success mission. It was only the opportunity to lead a statewide system to national prominence that persuaded me to apply. Indeed, during the VCCS search, I expressed my great pride in the work HFC and Michigan have begun in bi-partisan teamwork to lift up students and communities.
“Due to circumstances beyond my control, the VCCS path closed, and it is clear that Michigan and Henry Ford College are where my devotion to student success can make the most difference.
“I remain enthusiastic and encouraged about Michigan’s bi-partisan focus on student success. It comes from political leaders of all stripes across our state, who see public education as a way to help students and communities recover from the pandemic. It comes from industry partners across Michigan, who are collaborating to help win the competition for talent. And it comes from philanthropic generosity, which helps bring us together and shows that our public institutions can do good for all.
“We at Henry Ford College will honor that public support with our continued focus on student success. During the pandemic, we have increased retention and graduation rates. We have also increased the number of high school students earning free college credit to more than 1,500 per year.
“And, we have begun two major capital expansions. One will lessen our carbon footprint and pay for itself by reducing energy costs by 60 percent. It will also allow us to train students in clean-energy technology. The other project will expand our programs to meet employer needs in high-demand areas, such as automobile technicians, advanced manufacturing, and IT networking.
“But there is more work to do. And our new strategic plan shows the path. The plan is completely focused on student success, including goals for increasing enrollment, especially among students of color; increasing graduation rates across the College; and driving down achievement gaps among racial demographics. This is pivotal work. Studies prove that college completion dramatically increases lifetime earnings and public health. Our work changes lives and lifts up communities. I see this truth in my family and in the faces of our students and graduates each year.
“I am excited and proud to continue this work at Henry Ford College, where we aim to become Michigan’s best college for student success.”