February 15, 2002
DANIEL J. LaVISTA NAMED EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
LaVista will assume the duties of Executive Director May 1, succeeding Keith R. Sanders, who retires at the end of May after 4 ½ years in the position.
"The Board is delighted to have a person of Dan LaVista's stature, integrity, and record of achievement as its new Executive Director," Philip J. Rock, Chairman of the Board of Higher Education, said. "The pool of candidates for this position was exceptionally strong, and Dr. LaVista's experience gives the Board a proven leader in higher education at this critical time for our state's system of colleges and universities."
Dr. LaVista said: "I look forward to this extraordinary opportunity to serve the Board of Higher Education, the higher education community, and the citizens of Illinois. I congratulate the Board for developing The Illinois Commitment, a strategic vision that will guide us during the challenging times ahead." LaVista said expanding access to college and protecting affordability of a college degree must continue to be high priorities for the Board and the higher education community.
"The growing economic and social value of a college degree - to graduates, to the state, and to society - demands that we broaden access to higher education and place greater emphasis on success for all students," LaVista said. "We also must be vigilant in our resolve that cost is never a barrier to getting in the door of a college or university."
He added that he agreed with Board policies aimed at strengthening diversity on college campuses - among students as well as faculty and administrators - and measures to aggressively reach out to nontraditional students with programs and services to meet them at the crossroads of their needs and lifestyles. He also praised efforts to expand access, bolster affordability, and fortify the quality of programs through technology, citing the educational value of the Illinois Century Network, and such learning initiatives as the Illinois Virtual Campus, Illinois Community Colleges Online, and the Illinois Virtual High School.
"These policies and programs have helped make Illinois the number one system of higher education in the nation," LaVista noted. "I am committed to working with the Board, with my colleagues at colleges and universities, and with the Governor and General Assembly to see us retain that status."
At McHenry County College, LaVista created the first strategic planning process that defined the college's goals and values, and promoted the revision of the institution's policies on affirmative action. He also designed and implemented a referendum that produced an increased tax rate for the college's education fund and established an endowment campaign - MCC2001 - for scholarships, faculty development, technology, and the visual arts. He succeeded in getting a state capital grant of $9.14 million for construction of a classroom and student services center. Community outreach also has been an important mark of LaVista's presidency at MCC, including "Make a Difference Day," the Biznet Business Expo, and Domestic Violence forums.
In his eight years as President of the College of Lake County (CLC), LaVista shepherded the institution from one that served a predominantly rural population to one whose clientele became largely suburban in a short amount of time. He revitalized the college's foundation, raising assets from $40,000 to $700,000, and planned the development of a $13.5 million instructional performing arts center. Affirmative action efforts were expanded during his presidency leading to recruitment of minority faculty through national searches and the assistance of professionals from black colleges and universities. He instituted an enrollment management process that raised CLC enrollment by 50 percent in five years.
From 1995-97, in between his presidential terms at CLC and MCC, LaVista was Chancellor for the Community Colleges of Baltimore County, three separate colleges that had merged into an integrated institution. He also held the position of Vice President for Academic Affairs at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio, from 1985-87. LaVista's Illinois roots date to 1976 when he became associate professor of theater at Illinois State University.
LaVista has made numerous professional presentations, including on such topics as managing change, learning and technology, the vital connection between business and higher education, lifelong learning, and higher education governance. He has served as Chair of the Illinois Community College Presidents Council, and in various professional affiliations and projects in the United States and England.
LaVista holds a Ph.D. in Speech and Dramatic Arts from Syracuse University, a master's degree in English literature from the University of Dayton, and a B.A. in English from Siena College in New York.
His salary as Executive Director will be $225,000.