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President Chipps: The Man With a Plan

Ryan Forth, Editor-in-Chief

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Northeast has a new “kid” on the block with the addition of new NECC president Dr. Michael Chipps. Chipps is a president that transferred to NECC from Mid-Plains Community College, where he served from May 2003 until the beginning of 2012. While at Mid-Plains Community College, Chipps participated in many endeavors for the benefit of Mid-Plains including: overseeing funding campaigns, new buildings’ construction, bringing together a multi-campus system and much more. Chipps spent the majority of his youth working in positions that have to do with community colleges. “I’ve had a good blend, and you appreciate what you have when you are doing college consulting. All of the positions that I’ve held have been either instructional or in education services,” Chipps said. “My military background has also helped out, but not for being in charge. It has helped me with team exercises and other areas involving other people. I also have very strong family ties and my wife volunteers as well. Eventually, having all of these experiences and skill sets around me has helped, in the end it’s really a collective effort.” Here, his initial plan is to listen. By that, it isn’t that he’s not doing anything. His experiences as a counselor have led him to realize that active listening is a very important thing to do, and that to learn what he has to do as a president at NECC, he first has to hear what needs to happen from both the students and the staff he will be working with. When asked why, out of everywhere he could have moved on to, NECC, Chipps replied, “I’ve always loved NECC. I’ve loved this place for the last 32 years. That’s why I came here. NECC is the ‘pearl of great price.’” Though it’s a place he’s loved for a long time, Chipps acknowledges that immediately there are some areas that do need work, such as the O’Neill site and enrollments. As to the area of O’Neill, one of the first things Chipps mentioned was that they need a new education center, even though he hadn’t checked it out personally at that time. On the subject of enrollments, Chipps first statement was, “We have a great college. Nearly everyone I’ve talked to so far has been great, and even though we have a declining local population and the new center in South Sioux City this will always be the front line of Northeast Community College. That should make some people happy to know that.” One of the first things that Chipps said, even before accepting the position was, “I am not Dr. Path. If you are looking for a Dr. Path Jr. I am not him.” Even though that is true, there is still going to be some continuity of Path’s work, like the globalization initiative, for example. Chipps said that he is working on a possible partnership with a contact in England as well as the current on in China. There is one other subject that Chipps said he needed to improve, and that’s the area of scholarships. That said, there are many students with scholarships, but he knows that there are areas in which there could be improvement. He isn’t looking to just give a free ride to every student though; it’s Chipps’ belief that every student who wants it should earn their education. There are many times as a student that things happen. It is two years of your life that seem like eternity, but to Chipps, one thing is certain: “It’s about not losing sight of your goals; and it’s my job to make sure that the students get something out of their efforts. It’s great to help someone with hope, and to help them make a living. It doesn’t matter what their goals are, if we can help them get closer or even achieve them, then we are doing our jobs.” Being a president is a big responsibility, and it’s worth asking why anyone wants the position. About that subject, Chipps said, “I’d like to say I had a plan to become a president, but most people, including myself, have a serendipitous journey. It’s also a tough question to answer, but I just want to serve more. I want to serve the students and I became a president to serve better. As I said before, my base is in Student Services, and the more responsibility I was given the more I wanted to give back. I’m really just pooling the strengths of many different people to see where we all want to go, and to make sure that there is synergy while we get there.” There are some things on campus that have been an issue for both students and staff over the last few years, for example, NECC’s Dry Campus policy. “It’s important to note that alcohol in public is illegal anyways, but the policy itself is a good thing. There are many more opportunities available and it helps when groups move towards healthier lifestyles. It’s also good that the college is pursuing those lifestyles without being judgmental.”

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President Chipps: The Man With a Plan