Tulsa Community College's president talks about TCC and his retirement

Wednesday, January 14th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Doctor Dean Vantrease, the President of Tulsa Community College, plans to retire in six months.

News on 6 reporter Rick Wells talked to Vantrease about his 34 years at Oklahoma's largest community college. It all started in the Sinclair Building, Atlantic Richfield Petroleum had two floors, Redbud Fertilizer had a floor and TJC leased the other three floors. Now there's Northeast, a Southeast, a West, and a Metro Campus.

Dean Vantrease is proud of how it's grown. From his sixth floor office in east Tulsa Dr. Dean Vantrease can see all the way back to the first day of classes at Tulsa Junior College.

Vantrease: "No one thought we'd have 1,500 students go to school downtown. We ended up with 2,796 students." That was September 1970 and they've been growing ever since. Today more than 22,000 students, many of them are involved in programs which will lead them into a four year institution.

Vantrease: "We are the feeder to all of these public higher education institutions in this area." That's one of the things he's proudest of the partnerships with other schools and private business that allow TCC students a seamless transition to a four year school.

He says he doubts if Sabre, American Airlines reservation arm would have located here were it not for TCC. Vantrease: "We told 'em, when they were looking for a sight, we could teach how to operate data processing machines back then and repair them." No one else was prepared to do that. American Airlines once called TCC the MIT of the Sunbelt in computers, high praise for a community college.

He says he's disappointed over last fall's dispute over bonuses for administrators. Vantrease: "I think the board's strategy was good. It could have been a little more open, 20-20 hindsight is always perfect."

But he's proud of the work he's done and the things TCC's accomplished, but it's time to retire. “Go on do some other interesting things in my life and I'm really thankful to have been here this long."

One thing he says he'll do after July 1st is get more involved in the mission work of his church.