Dr. Robert Dunker is retiring, and his resignation will be acted on by the WIT Board of Directors Monday night. Dunker could not be reached Saturday, but board member Derrick Franck of Denison, Iowa, said Dunker is seeing his departure as a bittersweet event.
Franck joined him in that view.
"We are obviously going to miss him. He is the most senior community college president in the state. He has overseen a period of unprecedented growth at WIT. He has done a very fine job for the college and he is only our second president since the college started," Franck said.
Dunker was a vice president at WIT when he was elevated to president in 1991, succeeding Dr. Robert Kiser. In fact, Fort Dodge native Dunker graduated with the first WIT class in 1967, from the drafting program.
"I've always had a warm spot in my heart for WIT. The curriculum was excellent and it still is. Our bread and butter has always been students in the vocational and technical programs. I come from that heritage," Dunker said in a March 2, 1997, Journal article.
Franck said there are internal WIT employees who will warrant a look for the president position, but he suspects the college will undertake a national search for a successor. Looking nationally was also the process when Dunker was eventually selected from within 20 years ago, he noted.
Franck said there is no timetable for hiring a new president.
"Hopefully we'll hire a president that will last another 20 years," he said.
Franck said Dunker excelled in having a vision for the college, which led to the addition of on-campus housing for the first time and the Security Institute in 2009. He said Dunker also functioned well as a spokesman for the college in Siouxland and elsewhere.
The student dorm complex opened in fall 2008, a 68,900 square-foot facility with 49 suites on three levels.
A record 5,975 Western Iowa Tech Community College students registered for the spring 2011 semester, a 12 percent increase over 2010, when the spring headcount exceeded 5,000 students for the first time in school history. Spring enrollment measured in credit hours was 55,604, an increase of 11.9 percent.