The student who became the teacher is now the president, a process that took 37 years at Lanier Technical College.
Tim McDonald was formally approved as the new president of the school following a Technical College System of Georgia meeting Thursday, April 1.
McDonald previously served as the executive vice president for the school.
The system’s Executive Committee Chairman Doug Carter said the process involved a search committee interviewing candidates, who were in turn interviewed by the Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Greg Dozier.
Following an executive session, the board voted unanimously for McDonald, who Carter said had been with the school for more than three decades.
Carter said McDonald “has just done an outstanding job in every position.”
“He is going to continue the great legacy of wonderful leaders there at Lanier Tech,” Carter said.
McDonald had been serving as interim president, after the departure of Ray Perren, who was named deputy commissioner for technical education at the Technical College System of Georgia late last year.
“Mr. McDonald is a proven postsecondary leader within the Technical College System of Georgia with the experience and skills necessary to lead Lanier Technical College,” Dozier said in a statement. “He is committed to expanding opportunity to more Georgians through higher education and to continue developing a skilled workforce for our business and industry partners. Today is an exciting day for Lanier Technical College and the communities it serves.”
McDonald told The Times Thursday afternoon that he was “very much honored to be given this opportunity.” Calling his predecessor Perren a “great visionary leader,” McDonald said he believes enrollment will continue to rise as it has in the recent past.
“We’ve got to continue to work on our partnerships with our community’s high schools for sure and then other community partners like WorkSource Georgia Mountains and WorkSource Northeast Georgia that do so much great work in funding workforce development initiatives,” McDonald said.
There was only a five-week break between McDonald, the Lanier Tech student, and McDonald, the Lanier Tech instructor.
McDonald took machine tool courses in high school and got a job at Chandler Equipment Company.
After being hired at a different company, McDonald asked his supervisor what it would take to get to the next pay scale level.
Though McDonald had been machining for a few years, the supervisor said he needed a formal education. By the time he finished school at Lanier Tech, McDonald was encouraged by his instructor to take a teaching job that had opened up.
“All the dominoes fell, I was offered that position,” McDonald said. “I went from student to instructor within a matter of weeks.”
Statements from Lanier Tech staff to The Times regarding McDonald’s rise to the presidency detailed his mentorship and his care toward the college’s students.
“Tim was one of the first instructors I met when I came to Lanier Tech in 1993,” said Joan M. Lee, director of continuing education in economic development in a statement. “He is such a great example of work ethics and genuine care for our students. Tim embodies the very spirit of what Lanier Tech is all about. We are here to change lives, and he always takes the time needed to make every person with whom he interacts feel like the most important part of his day. Having worked under his direct supervision in Economic Development since 2015, I am confident that he will lead us well in years to come.”