Ivy Tech’s John Whikehart to retire in January

The Herald Times

Ivy Tech’s John Whikehart to retire in January

Posted: Friday, November 22, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 12:27 am, Fri Nov 22, 2013.

By Jon Blau
331-4266 | jblau@heraldt.com

Ivy Tech Community College Chancellor John Whikehart had a set of numbers on his mind for how long he wanted to wait before retirement: 20 years at the college and 10 years as Bloomington chancellor.

As of this week, he was approaching 23-13, a bit longer than he had anticipated. It was still a shock to the college community when Whikehart announced Thursday he will be leaving Jan. 15. He had notified Ivy Tech President Tom Snyder Nov. 11 of his decision, and Whikehart had his wife, Linda, by his side when he told the rest of the staff in Bloomington Thursday, a week and a half later.

“It’s that old saying, ‘It’s better to leave five years too early than five days too late,’” Whikehart said. “I’d rather retire now than wait a few years and have people saying ‘Thank God he’s leaving.’”

The college has been in the process of creating a new nursing school and expanding its main academic building, which has left Whikehart with enough incentive to stay even longer and see this through. But Whikehart has already accomplished a lot during his tenure.

Under Whikehart’s leadership, Ivy Tech has transformed from a vocational school to a larger community college. The Ivy Tech Bloomington campus has grown about 150 percent — 2,600 students to 6,500 students — from 2001 to present. Whikehart has also spearheaded efforts with the state Legislature and Indiana University to allow for increased credit-transfer opportunities for Ivy Tech students.

Looking back on his career with the college, Whikehart is proud of how the college has integrated into the Bloomington community, as well, helping maintain the John Waldron Arts Center’s presence downtown.

“John has been an incredible partner in re-engineering Ivy Tech,” Ivy Tech President Tom Snyder said. “I’m hoping to have his guidance and counsel as long as I’m here, but I recognize that chancellor is a 24-7 responsibility. A person in that role sacrifices a lot in service to the community.”

Whikehart said Brad Thurmond, vice chancellor of academic affairs at Ivy Tech Bloomington, will assume responsibilities as interim chancellor when Whikehart officially steps down.

Snyder said he expects the search process to take four to six months, but Whikehart will remain as a “chancellor emeritus,” helping with the transition and continuing to serve on committees with the college, primarily focusing on fundraising.

Whikehart said he also hopes to find another position in the Bloomington community, but he was not sure what that might be. This is the second loss for Ivy Tech in less than two months. Joyce Rogers, the Ivy Tech system’s vice president for development, left in October for a position with the IU Foundation.

“That’s just life in an organization. People come and people go,” Whikehart said. “Whoever comes onto this campus will be extremely fortunate.”

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