Jensen signs on as HFCC president

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — It’s official, Henry Ford Community College has a new president.

The HFCC Board of Trustees voted its approval of the contract offered to candidate Stan Jensen at a special meeting April 29 before the deal was signed by board members and Jensen the next day.

Board of Trustees President Pamela Adams said the contract was signed by board Secretary Joseph Guido and herself on the morning of April 30, with Jensen flying in from Colorado to sign it that afternoon.

The contract, which went into effect May 1, is for three years with a base salary of $181,000. It also allows Jensen a car allowance. Adams said the contract is very similar to the one for outgoing HFCC President Gail Mee.

Adams also said that Jensen met with his cabinet, the Board of Trustees and other union leaders at HFCC while in town. He flew back to Colorado Friday afternoon but Adams said Jensen plans to be back and ready to take over operations at the college before May 15.

The contract was negotiated by Adams and an attorney for the college, Dan Tuckle, who discussed the particulars of the agreement with Jensen over the telephone. Adams had previously met in a closed session with the board to discuss the parameters they were prepared to offer Jensen.

“We had a couple conference calls with (Jensen) and we met with the board to discuss parameters and I think we have come up with a contract that meets all the parameters that the board set and that satisfies the needs of Dr. Jensen,” Adams said.

The contract also has no built-in increases in the annual wage, which Adams said will be at the discretion of the board. The board also will have the final say in whether the contract is extended after the first two years of the deal.

“This is not a rollover contract,” Adams said. “The contract will have to be manually renewed by the board.”

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 over 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 will replace Mee, who announced last May that she was stepping down from her position when her current contract ended Dec. 31. She agreed to stay on until a replacement was hired and has been working under a contract extension that expires June 30. She was the fourth president of the college and first woman to serve in that role.

Adams said that Mee will attend the graduation ceremonies for the end of the winter semester and the finance committee meeting that is planned for May 8 and will be available for any assistance the college may need during the transition period.

Adams said the transition will be tough, but the board will work through the change. She also said that with the college’s current financial position and budget decisions for next year due in the coming weeks there is a lot of work to be done and decisions to be made.

The college recently hired the accounting firm Grant Thornton LLP to go through the college’s student accounts receivable and collections activity to assess how much student uncollectible tuition and fees have accumulated and what causes of the increase were.

Estimates from HFCC auditor Plante & Moran have the total amount of uncollectible tuition and fees at $12.1 million, which HFCC Vice President/Controller of Business and Auxiliary Services Marge Swan said may have the college pulling an additional $2 million from its fund balance to balance the budget for the year. The additional money would further reduce the fund, which could fall from $7.9 to $1.6 million by the end of the school year.

The final budget proposal for the 2013-14 school year is scheduled to be brought before the HFCC Board in June.