Johnson County Community College President Joe Sopcich announced today in a message sent to faculty that he is retiring from the position effective July 1, 2020.
Sopcich became president of the school in June 2013, following more than two decades working in various roles at the college. He began at JCCC as executive director of the JCCC Foundation back in 1992. In 2007, he was promoted to vice president of institutional advancement and government affairs. He then moved on to roles as executive vice president of administrative services and chief financial officer before being tapped to succeed outgoing president Terry Calloway.
“In today’s world of community college leadership, serving for seven years is almost double the standard length of time one serves in this position,” Sopcich wrote. “So, I wanted to share with you my intent to resign as president effective July 1, 2020. In giving notice now, it will ensure a smooth transition. I can’t thank you enough for what you do to make this College the special place that it is.”
During his time leading the college, JCCC has undertaken ambitious plans to transform the campus. In 2017, the board of trustees approved a $102.6 million package of projects that will remake much of the college’s infrastructure, including construction of new fine arts facilities, design studios, and career and technical education buildings. The college boasted impressive commitments from donors to help spark the construction efforts.
Current board of trustees chair Jerry Cook credited Sopcich with substantial positive impact on the college.
“Johnson County Community College has been blessed with Dr. Sopcich’s leadership in each of the three key positions he’s held over a 27-year period of time,” Cook said. “Dr. Sopcich has established a remarkable foundation for the next president of the College. While we are disappointed with his retirement plans, we appreciate the impact he has made toward student success at JCCC.”
Sopcich’s tenure hasn’t been without controversy, though. In 2018, the college tore out some sports facilities after voting to end its track and cross country programs, a move leaders said was motivated by the high cost of the programs compared to the relatively few number of students who participated. Comments a progressive activist said he overheard Sopcich make about a $1 per credit hour tuition increase caused a stir on social media, and Sopcich spoke with reporters to defend his position and his commitment to serving less affluent students.
Some of the controversies at the school in recent year appear to have played a part in drawing a large field of candidates to this fall’s JCCC Board of Trustees race. Eleven candidates are vying for the three sets up for election this fall. Members of the board of trustees will have final say in the selection of the school’s next president.
In his message to the faculty today, Sopcich said he believes the school’s 50th anniversary in 2019 provides a good opportunity to explore new leadership.
“As I wrote earlier, summer can be a time of reflection,” Sopcich said. “I will turn 65 next April, and my family and I have decided the time is right for my retirement. As I enter my seventh year as President, and the College enters its next half century of serving our community, I believe it is good timing for the College to embark on the selection of a new president.”