William D. Law Jr., president of Tallahassee Community College for the past eight years, was selected today as the new president of St. Petersburg College. He replaces Carl M. Kuttler Jr., SPC’s longtime president who retired at the end of 2009.
The vote by the college’s five-member Board of Trustees was unanimous. Law was selected from a slate of four finalists, a list that had been culled from an initial field of 25 candidates.
“This was a difficult decision, as all four finalists brought interesting credentials and visions to the process, and any one of the four could have led SPC with distinction,” said Terrence E. Brett, the board’s chairman. “William Law possesses the unique set of leadership qualifications and values that we were looking for.”
Law noted in his application that he has led three different community colleges. Before assuming the presidency at Tallahassee, he was president of Montgomery College in Texas, an institution he helped found. Before that, he was president of Lincoln Land Community College in Illinois.
In the 1980s, he was vice president of institutional and program planning at what was then St. Petersburg Junior College.
“I have been the president of three different community colleges, each one increasingly more complex and sophisticated,” Law said in his application for the SPC presidency. “The opportunity to advance to the ‘top rung’ on the professional ladder at an institution as complex and multi-dimensional as SPC is exciting and enticing.”
Kuttler announced in mid-2009 that he planned to retire, but he initially declined to set a date for his departure, and indicated that he might remain as president for up to two years to give the college plenty of time to find his replacement.
As the year neared its end, however, Kuttler said he had decided to leave much earlier than that, finally announcing that his last day on the job would be Dec. 31.
The Board of Trustees quickly began a search process. It named a 13-member search committee, made up of community leaders as well as members of the college community, to help with the selection process.
SPC advertised nationally for applicants, and an initial list of 25 candidates was developed. That list was whittled down several times until a final group of four finalists was selected.
Besides Law, the finalists included:
- Thomas Keegan, President of Peninsula College, Port Angeles, Wash.
- Paula Marie Gastenveld, Assistant to the Chancellor for Workforce Development, Academic and Student Affairs, Kentucky Community and Technical College System, Versailles, Ky.
- B. Kaye Walter, Executive VP/Chief Learning Officer, Valencia Community College, Orlando
Each of the four finalists made three-day visits to SPC, meeting with students and faculty members and touring the college’s various learning sites.
The Board of Trustees will now negotiate contract terms with Law.
Kuttler had led the college as president since 1978. Himself a graduate of St. Petersburg Junior College, as it was then known, Kuttler joined the college as an administrator in 1965. He was considered by many to be one of Florida’s most creative, innovative and entrepreneurial educators, always eager to create partnerships with government entities, other colleges and universities, and local and national businesses and corporations. Those partnerships contributed substantially to St. Petersburg College’s growth and success.
Kuttler led the college into a new era as a four-year school offering baccalaureate degrees, the first community college in Florida to be given such a privilege.