Dr. J. Larry Keen, president of Fayetteville Technical Community College for nearly 15 years, today announced his plan to retire, effective January 1, 2023.
Dr. Keen made the announcement at the monthly meeting of FTCC’s Board of Trustees.
“To say this is bittersweet would be an understatement,” Dr. Keen wrote in a letter to the trustees. He thanked the board “for the incredible opportunity” to have served as FTCC’s fourth president and said the College is financially secure, academically strong and dedicated to continuous improvement.
Dr. Keen said he plans to continue to work hard until he retires. “I’ll be with you for another year,” he told the board today. “If anyone expects me to be a lame duck, they’re expecting the wrong thing.”
David Williford, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, said Dr. Keen will be missed when he leaves. “It is with great sadness that we hear this news,” Mr. Williford said. “We appreciate your knowledge and your leadership. We wish you the very best.”
FTCC’s many achievements under Dr. Keen’s leadership include:
- Focused service to military members, veterans and their families, including creation of a clear and data-driven process to grant college credit for the formal training that service members receive during their military service and opening of the All American Veterans Center on FTCC’s Fayetteville campus.
- Consistent recognition as a Top 10 Military Friendly school, Top Military Friendly Spouse school and Best for Vets school.
- Ongoing development of a state-of-the-art Fire and Rescue Training Center, including an indoor Swiftwater Rescue Training facility, that will serve the county, the region, the state and beyond.
- Partnership with seven other community colleges and three four-year institutions to create the Carolina Cyber Network, which will seek to fill the growing and critical need for cybersecurity personnel through coordinated training programs at each partner institution.
- An early commitment to ensuring the ability to provide education online. This preparation enabled FTCC to move swiftly to online delivery of services when the COVID-19 pandemic began.
- A strong relationship with elected and civic leaders at the local, regional, state and national levels.
Additionally, during his time at FTCC, Dr. Keen has taken the lead in revitalizing technical programs verging on the brink of closure, resulting in a robust series of programs in great demand and with high job placement rates. He has been a leader in human resources development, training, and economic and workforce development and has served on numerous delegations, including at the international level.
Dr. Keen joined FTCC as the College’s president on Aug. 1, 2007, succeeding Dr. Larry Norris, who retired after 10 years.
Previously, Dr. Keen was Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development for the North Carolina Community College System for five years. Before that, he was the business and industry development manager for the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. His career reflects both classroom experience as a faculty member and educational leadership at the community college and university levels.
Dr. Keen retired from the Army Reserve after 21 years as an officer.
FTCC is the third largest of the state’s 58 community colleges.
In his letter, Dr. Keen said FTCC has in place a wide variety of teams that he praised for “their respective passions, commitment to the community college philosophy and extreme dedication to our mission and purpose.”
He said the College has developed new programs “that embrace the demands of a dynamic community, state and nation.”
And he noted that, during his time at FTCC, the College has successfully navigated two 10-year reaffirmations of its accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and one five-year review and has created its next five-year review.
“In addition, we have proven to be financially secure and well administered,” he said. “Finally, we are strong academically but never satisfied with the status quo due to our continuous quality efforts that have contributed to ongoing improvement.”
Dr. Keen said he will be “forever grateful” to the FTCC trustees and board chairs with whom he was worked over the years. “You have led with grace, expertise from a variety of perspectives and with not just your intellect but your hearts and compassionate understanding and support as well,” he wrote.
Dr. Keen received his Ed.D. from Oklahoma State University, his M.S. from Pittsburgh State University, his B.S. from Missouri Southern State College and his A.A. from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College. He is certified as a Master Trainer and Facilitator for numerous training systems, including AchieveGlobal, Development Dimensions International and The Pacific Institute.
He and his wife, Vicki, have two sons, Scott and Corey. Corey and his wife, Jessica, have two daughters, Kaitlyn and Brianna.