“I have worked in several different cities, in several states, and I can tell you that doesn’t happen everywhere. This community is blessed; when something needs to get done, people come together and find ways to make citizens’ lives better.” CCC President Jason Hurst, Ph.D.
The past year has been a whirlwind of activity for Cleveland Community College’s new president, Jason Hurst. He took the reins on April 1, 2018, after being selected as the College’s third president. Then, he began the challenge of learning a new job while relocating his family from Alabama.
When asked about his experience thus far, Hurst stated, “It has been my honor and privilege to serve as the president of CCC, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my first year at the College.” He added, “I am humbled by the great responsibility that comes with leading this institution and by the trust the community has placed in me.”
During his first few months, Hurst quickly familiarized himself with CCC’s programs, services and employees. He has since immersed himself in the culture of the College and regularly works with staff and faculty to enhance the work environment. “The staff, faculty and students of CCC have been extremely helpful and supportive as I continue to learn about the College and work with them to make us stronger and better,” he said.
Hurst also became involved in the community, joining the boards for United Way of Cleveland County and the Cleveland County Economic Development Partnership. “It has been a pleasure getting to know and collaborating with the leaders in this community, including those who serve on CCC’s Board of Trustees,” said Hurst. “Their support and guidance have been invaluable during this first year.”
As Hurst believes that the College is a foundation of economic success for Cleveland County, he made it a priority to meet with county leaders, business leaders, and businesses and organizations that contribute to Cleveland County’s economic well-being.
Hurst has encountered some of the unique features of living in Cleveland County, including livermush, Bridges barbecue and hiking at South Mountain State Park. He said one of the best experiences has been discovering how well people work together for the good of the community. “I have worked in several different cities, in several states, and I can tell you that doesn’t happen everywhere. This community is blessed. When something needs to get done, people come together and find ways to make citizens’ lives better.”
For him, one of the highlights of his first year has been working with Dr. Steven Fisher and the Cleveland County Schools staff to develop a program to bring high school students to campus. “I was privileged to be involved with the development of a new program to bring high school students to our campus, so they can participate in Career and Technical Education classes.”
While CCC already offers several classes at county high schools, many technical classes, such as robotics and machining, are not easily replicated on a high school campus. Replication would require dedicated space and the purchase of expensive equipment. “This new program allows students to participate in a broader range of classes without giving up involvement in activities at their high schools,” Hurst said. “They will ride a bus to our campus, attend classes during the mornings, and return to their high schools for afternoon classes and extracurricular activities.”
Establishing this new partnership with the county school system is exciting, but the accomplishment Hurst is most proud of is obtaining approval to launch the College’s first-ever athletics program. “Athletic teams help generate excitement and student engagement on campus,” he said. “Sporting events will create a stronger sense of community.” More important, athletics can provide scholarship opportunities to student-athletes who may not be able to afford college. Ultimately, the goal is to attract prospective students and show them everything a community college can offer.
Hurst’s excitement about and dedication to the community college experience is very personal, having started his own post-high school journey as a community college student. He worked full-time while attending weekend, hybrid and online classes. He received a full industry scholarship to Ayers State Technical College where he earned an associate degree in Machine Tool Technology and began working as a machinist.
As Hurst has advanced his education and professional life, he has never forgotten where it all started. “I know what we do at CCC changes lives. I believe what we do has an impact on the overall health of our community. We have a great team at CCC, and I can’t wait to see what we accomplish next.”