Henry Ford College Outgoing President Dr. Jensen: I hope the next President will be from within; and a separate board is needed
The Yemeni American news:
Dr. Stanley Jensen has been the president of Henry Ford College (HFC) since May 2013 and is set to retire in 2018. In an interview August 28, 2017 Stephen Coats and Rasheed AlNozili sat down with Dr. Jensen to take a look back at his accomplishments, what he is currently working on, and his vision for the future of Henry Ford College. In May 2014, Henry Ford Community College was renamed to Henry Ford College as the number of Bachelor’s Degree programs increased at Henry Ford College in an effort to provide students with the education required for today’s increasingly technically advanced workforce.
When looking back at some of the accomplishments made during Dr. Jensen’s time at Henry Ford College, he wanted to emphasize a few key areas where substantial improvement has been made on campus. The level of debt has decreased, fundraising efforts have increased, and as a result tuition freeze have been set up to allow students who earn their degrees within four successive years of initial enrollment at Henry Ford College receive a refund on any tuition increases during their time at Henry Ford College. The lowered tuition in general, relative to schools like the University of Michigan, University of Michigan – Dearborn, and Madonna University, combined with the freeze in tuition for students, makes the Henry Ford College a tremendous value. Dr. Jensen wanted to emphasize the number of staff and administration, excluding faculty, is about half of what most colleges of the same size have; this has required sacrifices from the top down and ensures students receive the lowest tuition prices possible.
Another important accomplishment during Dr. Jensen’s time at Henry Ford College is making sure everyone’s voice on campus is heard. This ranges from the administration and staff to the faculty to the students to the unions and groups of employees working on campus. The goal is to understand the community better while building a collaborative spirit which resonates throughout the campus.
When asked about the reason and timing of his retirement, Dr. Jensen wanted to make sure it was clear he is simply seeking to spend more time with his family as opposed to any groups pressuring him to leave. Dr. Jensen in response to the question, “I’m getting older, we’ve accomplished a lot of really great things, and I want to see my family more.” He does continue to discuss the need for further collaboration between all people involved in the Henry Ford College though, citing some entities who “could be a lot more productive, positive, and student-focused rather than selfish”. One thing Dr. Jensen believes could really help the college would be if everyone “gets dedicated to speaking absolute truth in the sense of telling the whole story, not just part of it. That people are not persuaded by money or special interest groups”. This is an issue at most universities however and will likely always remain an issue as long as people are willing to pay to advance their own personal agendas. Dr. Jensen goes on to say, “We could get so much further if we had collaboration. We could get so much further as a college if we didn’t have the bullies and the kind of action that is deceptive”. Unfortunately Dr. Jensen did not go on to elaborate exactly who the bullies were or the deceptive actions which have been hindering the progress of the college.
When asked about the School Board for Henry Ford College and the next President of Henry Ford College, several interesting points were raised. The desire to stay the course and keep going in the current direction was Dr. Jensen’s message to the School Board, a sentiment which was echoed by the School Board. It is the wishes of Dr. Jensen for one of the Vice Presidents of the college to take over in order to ensure the next president is a person from within the community, who is familiar with the development of the college, and who has a desire to stay for a long period of time. The one thing Dr. Jensen really wants to avoid is a person coming in from outside the community and changing up everything completely.
With regard to the School Board, Dr. Jensen focused on a couple of issues and challenges facing not only the Henry Ford College but the School Board for the college. Henry Ford College is in the unique position of having a School Board that is elected to represent both the Dearborn Public School Districts and the Henry Ford College; an issue which is being discussed currently as some conflicts of interest can occur. To the best of Dr. Jensen’s knowledge, Henry Ford College is the only remaining college in the country to have a split School Board. Dr. Jensen was recently informed by the State Government in Lansing that Public School Districts (K-12) would be going much more aggressively after money dedicated to community colleges; which would represent a huge conflict of interest for the Dearborn Board of Education. One solution being discussed is having a separate board for both the public school and the Henry Ford College; it will be interesting to see if this potential issue is enough to tip the balance in order to create a second separate board for the College.
Dr. Jensen was also asked about the future of the district and he hopes to see it continue down the path he has started. If the college selects a president from within the community it is likely this would continue. The college has set up a lot of partnerships within the community and Dr. Jensen expects these partnerships to grow and the number of them to grow; resulting in significantly more value being provided to students as a result. The IT department is currently being restructured to increase efficiency and provide more services to students. It is expected this restructuring will continue into the future and promise a better technical system in place for future students. One goal for the future is to increase the quality of online course offerings and increase their number. In addition, Dr. Jensen predicts the college will work to extend the high quality offerings from some areas to all areas of the college; something he believes will be extremely important in the future.