March 18, 2016, will mark the close of a leadership era at Madisonville Community
College with the retirement of President Judith L. Rhoads. Rhoads has served as president
and CEO of MCC since July 1, 1998. She holds the Doctor of Education degree in Human
Resource Development from Vanderbilt University and is a fellow of the American Council
on Education. Her first significant challenge as president of MCC was to preside
over the consolidation of Madisonville Community College and Madisonville Technical
College following the passage of the Kentucky Postsecondary Education Improvement
Act of 1997, acting as president of both institutions until the merger was completed.
MCC was the first community college in the Kentucky Community and Technical College
System (KCTCS) to undertake such a merger. Under Dr. Rhoads' leadership, Madisonville
Community College has placed itself among the highest performing public community
colleges in Kentucky and the nation. In 2011, 2013, and 2015, the Aspen Institute,
an educational and public policy research organization, named Madisonville Community
College in the top 10% of community colleges in the nation and was ranked first in
the state for the highest graduation rate for two-year colleges by the Complete College
Dr. Rhoads was born and raised in Central City, the youngest of three daughters of
the late Clarence and Dorothy Lewis. She resides in Madisonville with her husband,
former Senator Jerry Rhoads. They have two sons, Brad and Chris, and eight grandchildren.
Dr. Rhoads is a graduate of Murray State University, earning her Master s degree in
Psychology from Austin Peay University, and her doctorate in Human Resource Development
from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University.
She has devoted her professional career to public education, knowing that it is critical
to personal success and community development. From 1976 to 1993, Dr. Rhoads taught
psychology as a member of the MCC faculty. During that period, she was chosen Teacher
of the Year four times by the student body, and over 4,200 students passed through
her classroom, many of whom have returned to the classroom as educators themselves.
Prior to becoming president and CEO at Madisonville Community College, Dr. Rhoads
was the Dean of Academic Affairs at Owensboro Community College in Owensboro, Kentucky,
from 1993 to 1998. In that capacity, she developed and implemented a service learning
program that was recognized statewide, directed the establishment of a Teaching and
Learning Center for faculty, developed and implemented a new system of student advising,
and revised the college's evaluation of instruction process.
Building on a tradition of strong degree programs at MCC, Dr. Rhoads has continued
to meet the needs of business and industry employers with state-of-the-art technical
education. During her tenure as President, MCC has developed and implemented 15 new
Associate in Applied Science degree programs, 6 diplomas, and 93 certificate options.
The college s alignment with the needs of employers has never been more important.
The MCC administration and faculty have worked hard to listen and respond to the 266
members of our Program Advisory Committees to make certain their current needs are
met and to keep our eyes on the future at all times. More than ten years ago, a course
and program restructuring process was implemented to refresh the curriculum and keep
up to date with current trends and technology. The result has been second to none
educational offerings for this community.
The role of a community college is multifaceted. MCC must provide citizens with high
wage, high demand work ready program options as well as opportunities for a seamless
transfer into baccalaureate programs. We have worked in partnership with our universities
to open these doors, encouraging all students to reach their educational potential.
To that end, MCC has 88 Memorandum of Agreements with universities paving the way
for transfer of these students into 4-year degrees of their choice. MCC is ranked
5th in KCTCS with 8.9% of degree seeking students transferring.
Other initiatives unique to MCC are the Common Reader and Personal Effectiveness Skills.
The Common Reader program was introduced in 2010 which strengthened the interdisciplinary
nature of coursework in the college. The result has been an increase in the understanding
of common principles and events through the perspective of different disciplines and
a broadening of the student's personal perspectives. In 2013, Dr. Rhoads set in motion
a significant effort at MCC to address the soft skills deficit that employers throughout
the state and the nation are struggling with in their employees. With a focus on
punctuality, initiative, effective communication, and work ethic, faculty devised
a plan to incorporate the development of these qualities into their coursework. Today,
personal effectiveness skills are shaped and evaluated in every class taught at MCC.
Over the past sixteen years, the Workforce Solutions Department has grown from a 5
member department to a department of 24 with four major grants and six additional
units covering the health, manufacturing and mining sectors of our six county region.
MCC takes great pride in the work with mine training, mine rescue, mine fire brigade,
serving over 14,500 miners in the past three years. During Rhoads tenure, enrollment
in courses offered through Workforce Solutions has increased from 2,000 enrollees
to more than 8,300 per year. Since 2005, MCC s Workforce Solutions department has
applied for and been awarded $8,657,445 in KY WINS/KCTCS TRAINS grants. The department
continues to be rated as one of the top units across the state, currently serving
175 companies served in the six county area. Quality enrichment programs such as
Girls in Engineering, Summer Youth College, Super Saturdays and continuing education
courses are also offered.
Although not a tangible change, the college has also undergone a significant shift
in how it goes about the process of teaching and learning. Dr. Rhoads has worked
hard to create an institutional culture that focuses all efforts on student success.
As a result, the college is transforming itself from a teaching centered to a learning
centered institution. To bring about the transformation, MCC faculty members have
made effective use of institutional resources and federal grants to encourage and
sustain professional development. She has worked with faculty and staff to establish
ground-breaking initiatives which have increased commitment to student development
while at the college and upon graduation. Initiatives include:
a critical thinking across the curriculum quality enhancement plan intended to promote
the higher order reasoning skills;
a problem-based learning initiative which promotes the use of collaborative, team-based
student learning projects;
a reading across the curriculum initiative that promotes the use of discipline-specific
reading comprehension strategies;
a robust locally developed and delivered professional development program that promotes
educational best practice for both faculty and staff; and perhaps most importantly,
the implementation of a New Faculty Teaching and Learning Community program which
ensures that all new faculty are introduced to the use of effective research-based
instructional strategies that promote active learning and student engagement, the
first such program of its kind in the KCTCS.
Each of these initiatives are the outgrowth of three consecutive, federally funded
Title III Strengthening Institution grants that were awarded to the college beginning
in 2003, together totaling $5.6 million. Dr. Rhoads is committed to obtaining the
resources necessary to ensure that students have the opportunity to reach their goals
and their potential. This has been a guiding force at the college since she became
President. Since 1998, Madisonville Community College has been awarded over $154
million in grant funding. Financial aid is a part of that number, but after removing
financial aid, approximately $60 million has been awarded to improve services and
Dr. Rhoads has also encouraged innovative approaches to student affairs programming.
Today, all new students participate in an innovative First Year Experience (FSE) program,
launched in fall 2005. Faculty advisors meet with small groups of students, during
the summer and prior to the first day of classes, so that advisors can acclimate new
students to the expectations associated with the college classroom. Results of this
new advising program have been overwhelmingly positive. Those students who participate
in FSE sessions are retained at a rate significantly higher than those do not. Today,
MCC s persistence, retention, and graduation rates are among the highest in the nation
for public two-year colleges. The average fall to spring persistence rate for students
participating in FSE since Fall 2005 was 81%.
Since 1998, MCC s enrollment has increased by 70%, including a record 4,883 students
in the fall 2010 semester. The office of diversity programs, created in 2006, has
provided programs and services to expand awareness and promote access for students.
The percentage of minority students enrolled at MCC has increased over 50% since 2006
and the persistence of minority students ranks among the highest in KCTCS. The college
has awarded over 6,500 associate degrees since 1998 and over 15,000 total credentials
The Educational Talent Search and Student Support Services Trio programs continue
to be successful and have been funded consistently at the college. Transfer pathways
for students have grown exponentially over the years - highlighted by strong partnerships
with Murray State University to provide essential baccalaureate programs in education,
healthcare, and technology to the community. An active and robust program of recruitment
and early college awareness programs have provided access and exposure to the college
for thousands of school age children annually.
Dr. Rhoads experience in leadership roles and community endeavors is diverse and
demonstrates an understanding of community development. In addition to her years
as Academic Dean, Dr. Rhoads is also a graduate of Leadership Hopkins County and Leadership
Owensboro. She has served on statewide boards for both the Kentucky Historical Society
and the Kentuckiana Girl Scout Council, as well as the Board of Trustees for the University
of Kentucky and the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board. She currently serves on
the Madisonville-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors,
the Glema Mahr Center for the Arts Advisory Board, the United Way Board of Directors,
the Kentucky Humanities Council, the School Counts! Steering Committee, and the Hopkins
County Work Ready Community Committee. Locally, she is a past member of the Community
Improvement Foundation, the Madisonville-Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce, the Hopkins
County Community Coalition for Prevention of Substance Abuse, the former Chairperson
of the local American Red Cross board and has served on the Felix E. Martin, Jr. Foundation
Executive Board in Muhlenberg County for six years. One of her most noteworthy accomplishments
has been her selection as an American Council on Education Fellow, the first Kentucky
community college faculty member to receive such an honor. Dr. Rhoads completed her
fellowship under the guidance of President Ruth Shaw at Piedmont Community College
in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The most important challenge facing any president, however, is the challenge of assembling
a team of effective faculty and staff and providing them the resources they need to
do the best job possible. Resource development activities have increased dramatically
during Dr. Rhoads' tenure. The college has consistently ranked in the top four in
grant funds awarded among the sixteen community and technical colleges in KCTCS. Likewise,
MCC has consistently ranked among the most successful KCTCS colleges in private fundraising.
During her tenure as president, MCC received pledges and gifts totaling $21,039,417.
MCC conducted the Fulfilling the Promise, a five-year capital gifts campaign, which
raised $9,625,871 in private donations to the college. Under Dr. Rhoads' leadership,
the college opened the MCC Muhlenberg Campus ($4.5 million) and the Joe C. Davis Science
and Technology Building in 2001 ($5.38 million) and the Brown Badgett, Sr. Energy
amp; Advanced Technology Center in 2009 ($14 million). In 2014-2015, Rhoads worked
diligently to obtain funding for the Madisonville Regional Postsecondary Education
Center through the BuildSmart Investment for Kentucky Competitiveness initiative.
Successful completion of the $5 million fundraising campaign was announced in October
2015 and construction of the new facility is anticipated to begin in early spring.
The BuildSmart campaign totaled $5,216,393. Since 1998, Madisonville Community College
has received $44.5 million for new facilities, $7.06 million for construction and
renovations, $4.34 million for energy management and sustainability, and $2.43 million
for deferred maintenance and campus improvements.
The generosity of Dr. Rhoads and her husband extends to all areas of the college and
the community with donations important to student success in the region. Endowments
and scholarship funds receiving donations include the School Counts! for Hopkins County
Endowment, BuildSmart Madisonville campaign, the Hamman Family Humanities Endowment,
the Glema Mahr Center for the Arts annual fund, the Stan Lewis Memorial Endowment,
the JB and Keil Moore Community Endowment, the Judith K. Moore Memorial Endowment,
the Madisonville Library Endowment, the Elizabeth and Frank Bacon Family Applied Technology
Endowment, the Webster County Scholarship Fund, the Jerry and Judy Rhoads 2 + 2 Scholarship
Endowment, and the Judy Rhoads International Scholarship Endowment.
Dr. Rhoads is committed to the improvement of education at all levels in Hopkins and
surrounding counties. She led the successful efforts to develop, fund, and implement
the School Counts! work ethic/scholarship endowment program for public high school
students in Hopkins and Muhlenberg counties. At the time of its creation, it was only
the second program of its kind in the nation. Since the first scholarship awards
in 2008, the School Counts! program has awarded $802,386 to students attending MCC.
Rhoads has also been a key player in the establishment of the Webster County Kids
to College (WCK2C) scholarship program, based on the School Counts! model, for students
at Webster County High School to attend Henderson Community College or Madisonville
Community College. The establishment of the Judith L. Rhoads Endowment of Student
Engagement and Success was the WCK2C founding gifts.
Another successful program is the Adult Centers for Educational Excellence, commonly
known as ACE2. Born in 1998 from a vision and collaborative grant with the Hopkins
County School System and Madisonville Community College, ACE2 began offering GED,
college and workforce preparation classes in Hopkins County at the Parkway Plaza Mall
location in the spring of 1999. In July 2000 these services were expanded to include
MCC s Tech Campus on School Avenue. In the summer of 2005, ACE2 services were also
added at the Muhlenberg Career Advancement Center. In order to increase access to
services, off-site classes in Dawson Springs, St. Charles, White Plains, Nortonville
(new in January 2016), Bremen, Beechmont, Hopkins and Muhlenberg County jails, and
the Green River Correctional Complex have or are currently being offered. From ACE2
implementation to present, 1,521 GED credentials have been awarded in Hopkins County
and 399 in Muhlenberg County, for a total of 1,920 GED s to our residents. This large
impact has led to hundreds of postsecondary transitions and a better educated workforce.
The success of ACE2 is a direct result of talented and dedicated instructors, solid
community and organizational partnerships, and the support, leadership and vision
that was captured in 1998.
Finally, Rhoads understands that, if the college is to have a significant impact on
contributing to community development, children and parents must be aware of the value
and availability of postsecondary opportunities. To that end, the college regularly
invites elementary, middle school and high school students on campus to participate
in structured college day activities. Over 2,000 public school students visit the
Another successful outreach program is the School Days Matinees at the Glema Mahr
Center for the Arts. Average annual attendance for the past five years has been more
than 6,200 K-12 students. Beyond the School Days Matinees, the Glema Center serves
an additional 4,000 students each year through our residencies, visual arts exhibits,
Summer Arts Academies, and partnership with the Kentucky Music Educators Association.
The average attendance yearly to the Glema Center is 42,000.
As a champion of the arts, Dr. Rhoads has worked hard to secure the Glema Mahr Center
for the Arts for generations to come. During the 2015 year alone, approximately $100,000
was given to support the Arts in Hopkins County through endowments and outright gifts
from individuals and business sponsorships. Dr. Rhoads tenacious support and encouragement
through her own gifts have positioned the Glema Center to be an integral part of economic
development efforts as well as offering our citizens cultural opportunities right
in their own community.
During her tenure as president of Madisonville Community College, Dr. Judith L. Rhoads
has brought a spirit of cooperation and innovation to her work, never losing sight
of the college s primary purpose - serving students well and creating an environment
that promotes learning and success.