Kirkwood confirms Lori Sundberg is college’s next president

Dec 14, 2017 at 9:58 am | Print View

The president of Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Ill., announced on social media Wednesday evening that she has accepted an offer to become the next Kirkwood Community College president.

Kirkwood spokesman Justin Hoehn has confirmed the offer to Lori Sundberg, pending approval from the Kirkwood Board of Trustees, scheduled for Thursday night. Cedar Rapids’ 51-year-old community college had scheduled a news conference on the announcement for 4:30 p.m. Thursday, before the board meeting. That event still is scheduled.

Sundberg will succeed outgoing Kirkwood President Mick Starcevich as the institution’s fifth head. On Twitter, she expressed “a mix of emotions” in accepting the job, which she said she’ll start Aug. 1, 2018.

“I want all of you to know that this has been a tremendously difficult and emotional decision for me,” she wrote in a full statement on Facebook. “Galesburg has always been my hometown, and for more than two decades, I have had the incredible privilege of calling Carl Sandburg College my professional home. However, the chance to lead Kirkwood Community College is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Sundberg has been president of Carl Sandburg College since 2010, before which she served in vice president, dean, and director roles for that community college of about 2,000 students. She earned a cosmetology certificate from the school in 1977 and then a bachelor’s degree in economics and history from Knox College in Galesburg, followed by a master in business administration in marketing from Western Illinois University, and a doctor of business administration from St. Ambrose University in Iowa.

In her resume, Sundberg referred to herself as a “dedicated, visionary higher education professional.”

Sundberg will continue to serve as Sandburg’s president through June 30, helping that school’s Board of Trustees launch its search for a new president. She reported in her social media post that the school is “financially stable, and whoever is selected as Sandburg’s next president will walk into a fantastic situation at a fantastic institution.”

She praised Sandburg for providing her the “educational foundation I needed to change careers.”

“Coming to Carl Sandburg College literally changed my life, and I know it will continue to do that for others who set foot on our campus,” she wrote. “My love for Sandburg and this community will always remain with me, even as I begin this new adventure.”

Sundberg was chosen from among four finalists who visited the Kirkwood campus in November. That group had been narrowed from a pool of more than 60 applicants.

Other finalists included Kristie Fisher, Iowa assistant vice president and senior director of strategic partnerships with ACT, Inc. and former Kirkwood vice president; Steve Schulz, president of North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City — a smaller institution about 130 miles northwest of Kirkwood; and Michael Thomson, president of Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio.

Consultant Larry Ebbers, an Iowa State University professor emeritus, helped run the search, earning him $7,500 — not including expenses. After the finalists visited campus, Kirkwood collected community feedback via online submission forms and written comments during public forums.

Starcevich, who turns 70 this year, announced in January his plans to retire next summer, giving the school plenty of time to find a successor and transition leadership.

He’s leaving after 14 years on the job.

Check back for more updates throughout the day.

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