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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Apr. 4, 201910:00 AM EST

Florida State College at Jacksonville selects new president

Illinois community college president John Avendano will start this summer.
by: Scott Sailer Staff Writer

Florida State College at Jacksonville chose John Avendano, president and CEO of Kankakee Community College in Illinois, as its next president.

The college district board of trustees made the selection Wednesday.

Avendano replaces interim President Kevin Hyde, who has served since the retirement of former FSCJ President Cynthia Bioteau in May.

The selection caps an eight-month national search through a 16-member presidential search committee, assisted by Washington, D.C.-based AGB Search, an affiliate of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.

Avendano, 56, has more than 30 years of community college experience and has served as president and CEO of Kankakee Community College since 2009.

His educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology and a master’s degree in adult continuing education, both from Northern Illinois University.

Additionally, he holds a doctorate in educational administration and foundations from Illinois State University.

He told the trustees he was available to start after he retires from Kankakee Community College at the end of June.

During the interviews Wednesday, he was asked how he would address the cultural challenges at FSCJ. ”Give people the things they need to do their jobs effectively,” he responded.

Avendano described some of his strengths as the “ability to build community trust, relationships and support and serve community needs.” He emphasized being responsible to the needs of the community and preparing students.

He said his toughest decisions involved layoffs at a time when funding from the state was halted. His toughest administrative challenge involved coaching employees to perform in their roles.

FSCJ trustees Chair Karen Bowling said she was pleased by the search process, the transparency and involvement by the search committee.

Bowling also said she was surprised by the number of candidates for the position. 

AGB Search said the 74 applicants was the largest number it received for a position in two years.

“It speaks well of the college and the opportunity for the school and community that the position attracted 74 candidates. It shows the benefits of being president of FSCJ and the reputation of the school,” said Thomas McGehee, trustees vice chair and co-chair of the search committee.

The trustees conducted interviews Wednesday of the three finalists for the position.

“We can’t go wrong with three great candidates,” McGehee said.

The trustees made their decision after a three-day, on-campus visit that included open forums, student and faculty meetings, an event with community leaders and the interviews.

FSCJ spokeswoman Jill Johnson said Avendano’s start date and salary are being worked out with his contract.

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