By Brian Ojanpa
Free Press Staff Writer
NORTH MANKATO — Though she’s been an executive director in a Kentucky college system the past three years, Annette Parker said she’s a hands-on educator at heart and yearns to return to a campus setting.
On Wednesday, Parker was the first of three semifinalists for the South Central College presidency to informally meet with staff and students at an SCC luncheon that included members of the presidential search advisory committee.
Parker since 2009 has served as the Kentucky Community & Technical College System’s director for the National Center of Excellence in Advance Automotive Manufacturing.
The center is an automotive technical education entity involving community colleges and automotive manufacturers in 14 states.
Parker held a similar position in her previous job at Lansing (Mich.) Community College, where students were trained to work in the automotive industry.
In Kentucky, she has worked closely with the huge Toyota manufacturing plant in Georgetown, and her familiarity with automotive engineering and technology piqued the interest of search committee member and Minnesota State University President Richard Davenport.
Davenport told Parker her automotive education knowledge could lead to a “huge connection” between SCC and the complementing automotive programs at MSU.
On a more prosaic note, Parker answered a question about ever-increasing college tuition costs by saying that in 2013 a college president also must be a proficient fundraiser to keep costs down for students.
“Higher education has had to become more agile in fundraising” to offset federal and state cutbacks, she said.
Parker also is a semifinalist for the presidency of Riverland Community and Technical College in Austin. She holds a doctorate in educational leadership from Western Kentucky University.
Similar public forums will be held for the other two semifinalists 11:30-12:30 p.m. today and Friday at SCC.
Visiting Thursday is Lisa Larson, vice president for academic and student affairs at Hennepin Technical College, with campuses in Brooklyn Park and Eden Prairie.
Visiting Friday will be David Hellmich, vice president of academics at Bluegrass Community and Technical College in Kentucky.
The new SCC president would begin work in July, replacing Keith Stover, who is retiring June 30.
SCC has campuses in North Mankato and Faribault.