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Dallas College chancellor set to retire, successor named



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Chancellor Joe May will retire Aug. 31, 2022, and Executive Vice Chancellor Justin Lonon is the sole finalist to take his position.

May announced his intent to retire at a special session of the Dallas College Board of Trustees on May 14, and on June 1 the board named Lonon as the sole finalist to succeed May.

The nomination will be finalized with a formal vote June 22. 

Trustee Diana Flores said they could have done an outside search for May’s successor, but Lonon would provide continuity an outsider could not.

“Candidates are going to tell you yes, they will follow the direction the trustees have set,” Fores said. “However, a leader always wants to make their own mark, and would probably want to take us somewhat off that path. … Dr. Lonon has been involved step-by-step with the board and the chancellor in moving us in the direction the board has set, and we expect that to continue.”

Lonon has served at Dallas College for more than 15 years. Previously he was press secretary for former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk.

“Dallas College is a beacon of hope in Dallas County, and I’m excited to work with students, faculty and staff to expand opportunities for those we serve,” Lonon said in a statement to The Et Cetera. “I look forward to working with Dr. May during the transition.”

Matt Hinckley, history faculty and president of Eastfield’s Faculty Association, said he is pleased with Lonon’s nomination but disappointed to see May retire.

“I have enjoyed a productive working relationship with him, and I believe he has the best interests of students at heart,” Hinckley said.

Over the long term, Hinckley said he is looking forward to working with Lonon to expand programs that focus on food security and housing affordability, sustainability and social justice.

Hinckley said the most pressing issue he sees going forward is addressing low enrollment in the career and technical education programs.

“During the pandemic, many of our CTE programs, where good paying jobs are plentiful, have not been able to recruit new cohorts of entering students,” Hinckley said. “[This is] because the high schools also have been closed and because many of our dean and department chair positions remain unfilled. We need rapidly to develop and deploy a program to draw both graduating high school students and adults … into programs that will prepare them.”

May came on board as the seventh chancellor of the former Dallas County Community College District in February 2014.

“To say that I’m proud of the work we have accomplished here together would be an enormous understatement,” May said in an email announcing his plans for retirement. “As I look back at my time here, I can clearly see how, together, we have innovated, connected, built, learned and grown, all in the name of transforming lives through higher education.”

Under his leadership the seven colleges in the district merged in 2020 to become the singly accredited institution of Dallas College.

May also sought authorization for Dallas College’s first bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and teaching. The program was approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and is set to begin this fall.

In 2018 May helped with the creation of the Dallas County Promise, a partnership of colleges and high schools that helps students graduating from participating high schools pay for tuition not covered by federal and state financial aid.

“It has truly been an honor to serve and lead this institution as chancellor for the past seven years,” May said. “Though the journey hasn’t always been easy, the chance to serve our students, especially through our transition to Dallas College, has been the opportunity of a lifetime.”
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