Baynum says small colleges are his passion

Published 7:50 pm Friday, September 3, 2010

The fourth candidate to be interviewed by the committee searching for a replacement of retiring Bainbridge College President Tom Wilkerson said his passion has always been a small or community college.

Thom Baynum, the president of Coastal Bend College in Texas, said he is a first-generation college student.

“That is basis for my passion for community colleges, because without a small college … small classes, a faculty that cared, I would not be here today, period,” Baynum told the approximately dozen people who attended the community reception Thursday evening. “It really did changed my life and saved my life. I bring that to every job I’ve ever had.”

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Baynum previously served as vice president of academic affairs at Palo Alto College, one of the Alamo Colleges in San Antonio, Texas; as dean of Arts and Sciences at Richland Community College in Decatur, Ill., and as coordinator for arts and humanities at Northwest College, one of the Houston Community Colleges.

When he first arrived at Coastal Bend College, there were an array of problems at the college, and Baynum was charged by its board of trustees to “bring peace.”

He said he was able to build the college up, and it now has new regional programs, a steady rate of growth and more funding, including a grant from the Bill Gates Foundation.

The search committee has two more candidates coming after Thursday—one is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 16, and the last one scheduled is on Thursday, Sept. 23.

Baynum said what he could bring to Bainbridge is his love of being with people and his desire to becoming a part of the communities of the college and of the community. He also said he brings several years of experience.