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Jerry Wallace, president of Central Community College-Hastings, speaks during a press conference June 6 at the Grand Island campus.

Jerry Wallace is bringing his experiences of educating the workforce to Central Community College-Hastings.

Wallace succeeds Bill Hitesman, who retired June 3 from his position as president of the CCC-Hastings campus and divisional vice president over the skilled and technical sciences.

Wallace, from Muskegon, Michigan, started work May 20 after leaving his position as dean of workforce, technical and community education at New River Community and Technical College in Beckley, West Virginia. There, he helped create workforce training for local employers.

“The workforce side is really a passion of mine because I want to get people into good jobs and also want to grow our own,” he said.

Before his position in Beckley, Wallace was the associate dean of continuing education at Odessa College in Texas. There, he developed and implemented an electric lineman program in a partnership with Oncor Electric Delivery, a utilities company headquartered in Dallas, Texas. The program came from a need in electrical lineman in the area.

“As a community college, we are on the forefront, so we can change quickly. We can change our curriculum quickly, we can offer workforce training really fast to fill that void,” Wallace said.

Wallace has connected his passion in workforce with a doctorate of education in leadership and management from St. Thomas University and a master’s degree in educational leadership from West Michigan University.

“Education-wise, I am into seeing the goal and building backwards. So if our goal is to get a job for people, we need to have them at the forefront.

The job that’s going to be there, what it’s going to look like and then prepare our students that way,” Wallace said.

“One thing that I have been successful with is advisory committees — making sure we are open-door. We say, ‘Hey, if you are looking for employees or something changes in the industry, we want that feedback. We want to be able to add that to our curriculum and make sure that we’re producing the best students for those jobs.”

Wallace said he plans to build on Hitesman’s business partnerships, which included a 1.7-megawatt wind turbine that became active in 2017.

The project was a public-private partnership between Bluestem Energy Solutions, Central Community College and Hastings Utilities.

“I definitely want to build on Bill’s momentum that he had with partnerships and expand them to different campuses, as well,” Wallace said.

Since he started, Wallace, who ran the Half Hastings on Saturday, has been introducing himself to the people of Hastings and Grand Island.

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