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PJC Presidential Search Committee names three finalists

Published or Revised March 12, 2024

Shown from left are PJC presidential finalists Dr. Stephen Benson, Dr. Joel Michaelis, and Dr. Kevin Rose.

The Paris Junior College Board of Regents met Thursday, March 7, 2024 and received the formal recommendations from the PJC Presidential Search Committee of three finalists for the next President of the College.

"We accepted the report of the Paris Junior College Presidential Search Committee as authorized by a previous vote of the Regents," said PJC Board of Regents President Curtis Fendley. "We are extremely pleased with the caliber of applicants. It is a compliment to the reputation of the College."

The three presidential finalists are Dr. Stephen Michael Benson, Dr. Joel Michaelis, and Dr. Kevin Rose. Public forums for faculty, staff, students, and the public will be held at 9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m. in the PJC Math and Science Building, Room 101 for Dr. Rose on Wednesday, March 20, Dr. Michaelis on Thursday, March 21, and Dr. Benson on Friday, March 22.

Stephen Michael Benson, Ph.D.

Dr. Benson has a twenty-seven year career serving as an administrator at a variety of higher education institutions. He came to McLennan Community College in April 2017 after serving three years as the Vice President for Business Services at Florida Gateway College in Lake City, Florida.

Prior to the position in Florida, Dr. Benson served as Vice President for Finance and Administration at New River Community and Technical College in Beckley, West Virginia and as Director of Administrative Services at West Virginia Wesleyan College.

He received a Bachelor of Music Education degree from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 1997, a Master of Science in Strategic Leadership from Mountain State University in 2010, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Keiser University in 2016. 

Dr. Benson has been actively engaged in professional organizations, including Community College Business Officers groups in West Virginia as the Vice President, in Florida, and now as the Secretary for the Texas Association of Community College Business Officers.  Active in his current community, Dr. Benson has served on boards for the United Way, Creative Waco, Youth Chorus of Central Texas, McGregor Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, and church committees.

In his current role at McLennan Community College, Dr. Benson is responsible for the preparation and control of the annual budget, which exceeds $61 million and ensures that proper financial systems are established and maintained. Dr. Benson has direct responsibility for Financial Services, Purchasing/Auxiliary Services, Human Resources, Technology, Campus Safety/Police, Emergency & Risk Management, Physical Plant, Admissions and Recruitment, Records and Registration, Enrollment Systems, Financial Aid, and Marketing and Communications, with over 200 staff in his division.

Directly responsible for strategic enrollment management, Dr. Benson has led the College in many innovative new initiatives that have stabilized enrollment and generated enrollment growth. Under Dr. Benson’s financial leadership, the College has added over $14 million to its unrestricted fund balance, all while enhancing the salaries and benefits of its employees by $6 million. A champion of collaboration, Dr. Benson routinely uses committees and task forces representing all employees to best implement change.

In his previous role at Florida Gateway College, Dr. Benson provided leadership for planning multiple construction projects, developing a facilities masterplan, establishing a public safety office, and opening a campus operated food service. Similarly, in his Vice President role at New River Community and Technical College, Dr. Benson was instrumental in providing leadership for the separation of the financial operations from Bluefield State College, which established the business office, financial aid office, and purchasing department. Dr. Benson provided the leadership for New River to drastically expand its facilities footprint on five campuses. 

In addition to his professional roles in higher education, Dr. Benson has used his musical training to serve as the music director for First United Methodist Church of Buckhannon and as the director of the Buckhannon Choral Society. He currently serves as the Music Director of Lake Shore Baptist Church in Waco. Music plays a major role in the life of the Benson family.

Dr. Benson is married to Christy and they have one daughter Kiersten.  Christy is the Financial Manager for MPL Corporation, a computer software company that is based in Buckhannon, West Virginia. Kiersten will graduate from Midway High School in Waco, Texas this year and will attend the University of Texas in Austin this fall to study chemistry.

Joel Michaelis, Ed.D.

Dr. Michaelis is the Vice President of Instruction at Southeast Community College in Lincoln, Nebraska. Previously, he served in the Chief Academic Officer role at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Middlesboro, Kentucky and also at Hill College in Hillsboro, Texas. Dr. Michaelis earned a Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration from Baylor University, a Master of Education in Higher Education administration from The University of Texas, and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management from Texas A&M University, College Station.

Dr. Michaelis has worked in education for over 30 years, starting as a sixth grade mathematics instructor, and has served in various administrative roles in student services, workforce development and academics in community colleges in Texas, Kentucky, and Nebraska. He is also a graduate of Paris High School and attended Paris Junior College for a year prior to transferring to Texas A&M.

Kevin P Rose, Ed.D.

Dr. Kevin Rose is the Senior Vice President for Student Success at Northeast Texas Community College (NTCC) where he provides leadership for a variety of areas including instruction, student services, information technology, and outreach services.  Hepreviously held the positions of Vice President for Instruction, Associate Vice President for Workforce Development, and Dean of Business Technology and Continuing Education at NTCC. From 2006 to 2009, Dr. Rose served as Associate Dean of Workforce and Continuing Education, then Dean of Workforce Education at Paris Junior College.

Dr. Rose began his higher education career teaching computer science before moving into administration over 20 years ago. He has maintained his passion for connecting with students by serving as an adjunct faculty member at both Northeast Texas Community College and Texas A&M University-Texarkana, having taught undergraduate and graduate courses in the departments of computer science and adult education.

He has extensive experience supporting business and industry through workforce development and the design of innovative training programs. One such project is the Industrial Technology Training Center (ITTC) in Mt. Pleasant, Texas. The ITTC is a partnership between Northeast Texas Community College, Mt. Pleasant Independent School District, and the Mt. Pleasant Economic Development Corporation and is focused on providing training for maintenance personnel in the manufacturing sector.

Dr. Rose has worked closely with the area’s school districts in supporting a college-going culture and was instrumental in the development of the Harts Bluff Early College High School, the first in the area. In 2020, he was named the Area 3 Career and Technology Association of Texas (CTAT) Champion for CTE for his work with area CTE departments in both program development and grant writing support. He has served on numerous Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) accreditation teams as both a committee member and chair and serves on the Board of Managers for the Titus Regional Medical Center, the Mt. Pleasant Housing Authority, and Workforce Solutions Northeast.

Dr. Rose holds a doctorate in higher education leadership from Texas A&M University-Commerce, a Master of Science in computer science and a Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice from Stephen F. Austin State University, as well as associate degrees from NTCC. He is a graduate of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s Senior Fellows Program and the American Association of Community College’s (AACC) Future Leaders Institute. He is an alumnus of the League for Innovation in the Community College’s Executive Leadership Institute. He is married to Tracie Rose, who is the Director of Learning and Literacy for Harts Bluff ISD. Together they have one daughter, Caroline.