May 12, 2007

NEWS: Interim Ends

Campus healer says 'goodbye'
Supporters say Interim President Larry Tyree restored trust in the community’s college

By Miguel M. Morales

Johnson County Community College will say, “Later, Gator!” to its president.
JCCC will mark the end of Tyree’s stint as interim president with a celebration.
Trustees named Larry Tyree to the position July 2006 following President Charles Carlsen’s abrupt resignation amid allegations of sexual harassment.
Since taking the position, Tyree has worked under a month-to-month contract and is credited with stabilizing the campus in the months that followed.
2-3:30 p.m., May 17
Carlsen Center Lobby
Johnson County Community College
Community members may place cards or mementos in a memory box to be presented to Larry Tyree
Tyree’s transition
“I came here thinking that I was going to take this job as if I’m going to be here forever,” Tyree said in an interview with The Lexicon last July, after only three days on the job. “I don’t know that you could have it any other way.
“If you look at in 30-day increments, you see yourself strictly as a short-timer. Short-timers typically don’t do very much. I wouldn’t be the least bit reticent to embark on a plan then handing it off the next leader of the college. Then she or he could continue or abandon it.”
Tyree vacates the position in June to Terry Calaway, president of Central Arizona College, Coolidge, Ariz., will serve as established president in July.
A May 17 campus gathering dubbed “Later, Gator!” honors Tyree’s contributions and his affinity for his alma mater, the University of Florida, where he serves as a professor emeritus.
In that same interview, Tyree pondered his impact on the campus and community in the months to come.
“I hope to look back and be able to say that there are some things better about Johnson County Community College than when I found them,” he said. “There’s some satisfaction in knowing you helped move the institution a little bit.”
Presidential impact
Sue Kuder, executive assistant to the president and the board, said she doesn’t know where to begin when trying to comprehend everything Tyree has done for the college.
“From his daily birthday phone calls to his open door policy to his attendance in numerous classes, Dr. Tyree has touched an incredible amount of people in his short time here on campus,” she said. “What an incredible healer he is.”
Kuder said she’s not only grateful for the opportunity to work with Tyree but that she’ll miss their interactions.
“I will miss his wonderful sense of humor and his calming influence,” she said. “In a word -- he's just Awesome.”
Rita Harsook, accounting clerk in Financial Services, was one of many who met with Tyree throughout the year.
“He told us he wanted to know of any injustices happening at JCCC,” she said. “He brought to our college a feeling of kindness and respect for individuals. I am so thankful Dr. Tyree passed our way.”
Betty Uko, admissions/registration clerk in Enrollment Services, said Tyree’s return to Florida is their gain and our loss.
“Dr Tyree has brought a renewed hope to our campus that was long overdue,” she said.
Uko recalled the first time she met Tyree in his office.
“We had a long conversation about what I do here at the college and what I would like to see changed,” she said. “I felt so comfortable speaking to him, just the way you feel when you speak to an old friend.”

Organized support
When trustees established the JCCC New President Screening Committee to aid in their search for a new president, employees mounted a grassroots effort for Tyree to serve permanently.
Uko served on the committee. She and other members of the committee openly supported the effort to keep Tyree.
Kami Day, professor of English, helped organize the campaign to keep Tyree.
Day, also an adviser for the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Student Union, said one of her strongest memories of Tyree is when he came to the Pride Awareness Day drag show.
She said Tyree then surprised everyone.
“He read JCCC's diversity statement and told us JCCC is not doing enough to promote diversity,” she said.
Day said she knows some faculty, staff, and trustees complained to Tyree about the event he did not waver in his support of the students.
“He has a gift for connecting with people so they know he is interested in them, and he supports and values all students,” she said. “I wish he were not leaving,”
Frank Syracuse, professor of economics, said Tyree’s integrity-based leadership came when the college needed it most.
“His courage convinced many of us that a new atmosphere on campus was possible if we were just willing to work for it, and make some sacrifices,” he said. “I only wish I possessed a small portion of his not so common talent.
“Hopefully all future presidents will model much of his ideology regarding education leadership. He will be missed, but remembered for a very long time.”