FREMONT - Terra State Community College's top administrator is retiring, but her schedule the last few weeks hasn't slowed down.
The last day for President Marsha Bordner, 62, is Friday. She has led the school since October 2003.
Bordner said she had assumed she would be a lame duck in her last few weeks, but she hasn't been. Instead, she said, it has been a race to the finish line.
PHOTO BY JILL GOSCHE
Marsha Bordner, president of Terra State Community College, embraces Kathy McKown, coordinator of maintenance services, prior to commencement in May.
She said she had been introducing her predecessor, Jerome Webster, vice president for student and administrative affairs, to many of their colleagues in the region, such as hospital chief executive officers and local business leaders.
"We have been out doing some visiting. ... He's just really ready to go," she said.
Bordner has one more board of trustees meeting before she retires. She said the agenda for Wednesday's meeting is one of the largest and most significant in recent history.
She said officials had rolled out a new strategic plan and now are looking at ways to finance it. The school also is looking at a plan to renovate the former early childhood education center.
"We're rolling out at least a proposal for it as a full conference center," she said.
Bordner said Terra is developing a hospitality management program and needs two laboratories, which would be available for community use. She said she is hoping the center doesn't compete with other vendors.
Another item on the agenda is authorization for the school to go out for bonds. The college hasn't borrowed money in an extensive way at all, and it would be a major change, she said.
Officials have been talking about an entrance to the college off of SR 53 and would need financing for that and for a new road into campus, she said.
"It's a real safety factor. ... Turning on 53 is very, very dangerous," she said.
The bonds also could fund renovation of Building B and Building G, the former childhood education center.
"The bond authorization is a major deal. ... (Trustees) may put the brakes on (the ideas, or) they may not," she said.
Bordner and Webster, who have been working together for several years, have been working together for the presidential transition for at least six months. If they can get the items approved, it will give him more time to focus on other kinds of presidential duties and not just financing issues, she said.
"Most of it's about financing," she said.
During Bordner's tenure as president, Terra converted from quarters to semesters. She said other public colleges are doing it, and it has been a blessing to have that task done.
"It is a huge (transition)," she said.
Also, Terra has opened two new buildings in the last two years, and Bordner said she is proud of its focus on academic quality.
"We've raised money, too. ... For our first major gift campaign, our foundation and community members raised over $2 million for us. That was a good outing," she said.
Terra launched a strategic plan, completed most of its goals, developed another and launched that as a blueprint for the future. Bordner said enrollment is declining across Ohio, but Terra had double-digit increases during her time there. Enrollment increased 50 percent one year, she said.
"That was just really a great thing for us," she said. "It put us on a roll."
Bordner said from the moment she told the trustees in confidence she was going to retire, they talked about their choices. She said she did a lot of homework for them and served as their consultant.
"I was involved intimately in working with the board to make that decision," she said.
Webster was given a three-year contract with an annual salary of $150,000.
According to a release from Terra, he was a residence hall director and housing coordinator at Olivet College and a human resources associate at Standard Federal Bank; served in various positions in housing at University of Toledo; and served as dean of student services at Terra, dean of students at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Mich., and dean of student affairs at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland.
Bordner said she and Webster worked on a strategic plan together and described him as bright, energetic and a "great guy."
"He's a dear friend and colleague. ... He's just delightful," she said.
Webster said Bordner was good at ensuring he got exposed to information he needed to do the job and was gracious as she introduced him to members of the community. Their intention, he said, was a smooth transition for the college.
"I've worked closely with her," he said.
Webster said Bordner has been a dynamic leader and passionate about making sure students had the best opportunity to learn. Student success has been her focus. He said he thinks she has been a pioneer for women in the field, and he is happy he has had the opportunity to see her as a role model.
"She has continued to work diligently (during the transition). ... She's allowed me to learn what I need to know," he said.
Bordner, who said she expects big and bright things from Terra in the future, said she has a busy summer planned. She said she is going to teach a graduate course about women in higher education for University of Toledo.
"I am in the process of trying to get a syllabus together for that," she said.
Bordner said she is scheduled to teach an American literature course for Terra, and she plans to spend more time with her grandson, who is nearly a year old. She also is planning to write a biography of her husband, who is retiring and is a Tuskegee airman.
Bordner said she feels like she has plenty to do.
"I'm on a couple of boards, and we're traveling," she said.
Bordner said she thinks Terra provides a beginning quality academic experience for a range of students. She said she thinks it is the best academic bargain in the region but also has an individual focus on human beings.
"I think very few (get lost in the shuffle). ... Most large colleges and universities simply can't compete with what we have to offer," she said.
Bordner said she feels blessed to have been able to spend 35 years in public service. Community colleges, she said, are about public services.
"What a blessing and what a gift for me," she said.
Webster said Bordner has worked hard, and he wishes her luck and enjoyment in retirement.
"She deserves it," he said.