After 38 years of service to the Fox Valley Technical College District, 13 of them as president and CEO, Dr. Susan May has announced her retirement effective July 31, 2021. She shared the news with the campus community on Tuesday, March 30.
Dr. May joined FVTC in 1983 and has taken on a variety of roles with increasing responsibilities throughout her tenure. She became chief academic officer in 1997 and was named president and CEO of the College in 2008.
“Together, we have navigated three of the greatest challenges in the College’s history,” Dr. May said in a message to faculty and staff. “First, the enormous impact of the Great Recession that began three months into my presidency in 2008, then the enactment of Act 10 state legislation in 2011, and capped off with the unprecedented pandemic of 2020. All of these were completely unexpected challenges, but together we tackled each one.”
“Dr. May is highly regarded for her leadership, collaboration and deep understanding of the educational systems in Wisconsin,” added Patty Van Ryzin, Chair of FVTC Board of Trustees. “She is extremely knowledgeable and intuitive about the needs of the many stakeholders the College serves. During her 38-year career with the college, she has exhibited steadfast passion, commitment and dedication to the organization and its mission. The accomplishments of Dr. May and her entire team have been remarkable.”
Championing the College
Dr. May has built a reputation for championing multiple large-scale initiatives aimed at better serving students, employers and local communities. Through her leadership, a $66.5 million capital referendum was passed in 2012. Among other projects, the referendum allowed for construction of a new campus for the Public Safety Training Center, which is the only fully integrated and multi-disciplinary training facility in the Midwest.
Dr. May also spearheaded efforts to expand FVTC’s partnership with Appleton International Airport by developing and delivering Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) training, which successfully launched in 2020. The program is one of only 20 in the entire country and the only one featuring a Boeing 777 aircraft fire training prop.
“Dr. May’s leadership and impact cannot be overstated,” said Dr. Chris Matheny, executive vice president and chief academic officer. “Over her career, she has led initiatives at the local, state and national levels that have positively impacted the lives of countless individuals and communities. The Fox Valley Technical College region, our employers, College staff and the thousands of FVTC students have benefited tremendously from her leadership and her impact will continue to be felt for years to come.”
Leading through a pandemic
In a year of upheaval due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. May navigated the College as it created instructional models in alternative delivery formats for nearly 250 associate degree, technical diploma, certificate programs and seminars, as well as nationwide criminal justice-related programming. The College continues its process of resuming in-person operations and will expand offerings both in-person and online in fall.
“Navigating our large and diversified organization through this past year has been a huge undertaking, but we have an outstanding team that’s certainly risen to the challenge,” Dr. May said. ““Thanks to the vaccines, by this summer and certainly fall, we should find ourselves well on our way back to what will be our new normal. FVTC has a strong, innovative and responsive culture, well positioned to serve future community needs.”
The Fox Valley Technical College Board of Trustees will begin the search and hiring process immediately.
“A Search Committee will be appointed, including representatives of the Board of Trustees and other stakeholders. We look forward to engaging others in this process,” Van Ryzin said. “The Board anticipates finalizing and announcing the selection of the new president no later than August, 2021.”