MCC selects ‘widely respected’ provost to lead college

After a national search, the Muskegon Community College's Board of Trustees selected a familiar face to lead the college.

Dr. John Selmon, who came to the MCC campus in May 2011 and is described as a “widely respected” administrator, will become the college’s next president on July 1 when Dr. Dale Nesbary officially retires after 13 years in office.

Selmon currently serves as the provost/executive vice president providing leadership and oversight for academic affairs, athletics, facilities, and student services.  He has more than three decades of experience in key leadership roles at public and private higher education institutions.

The Board of Trustees voted unanimously in a special meeting on April 27, selecting Selmon following a national search that attracted 49 candidates. The field was narrowed to three finalists, who visited campus earlier this month for interviews and tours, according to the college.

Support from faculty and staff

“When I went to school here, I thought the frontline representatives, the frontline advertisers of this school were the teachers, the instructors, and the support staff,” Trustee Roy Portenga said in nominating Selmon for the position.  “I have never seen staff and instructors so supportive of a person as they were of John. 

“Additionally, we have all had interactions with John now for 11 years. We have seen for ourselves what he can do for this school, both in talking and listening. For the morale of this school, for the best support given to our front line, I think John Selmon is the right person.”

Selmon, who received a series of vocal standing ovations from the faculty, staff, and community members in attendance, thanked the board and the MCC community for its confidence in him, according to a statement from the college announcing his new role.

He describes his new role as a dream come true.

“This is the stuff you dream about,” Selmon says. “When it does come true, it does become emotional. These jobs are special. Not everyone is going to become a president of a college. So it is a dream come true. I appreciate the opportunity to live out my dream here at Muskegon Community College.”

Selmon spearheaded the collegewide Achieving the Dream initiative, resulting in a national designation for MCC as a Leader College, national recognition for MCC’s student success initiatives, and subsequent rankings for MCC among the best community colleges in Michigan and the U.S.

Led major building projects

He was project lead for several major MCC building projects, including the capital outlay grants. These included the $19.8 million Sturrus Technology Center, the $14.1 million Health and Wellness Center, the $9 million Art and Music Building, and the $805,000 Automotive Center. He was also a co-lead for the $9.6 million Science Center.

At MCC, Selmon instituted significant emergency procedures to enhance campus safety and security.  In 2015, he put MCC at the forefront of U.S. community colleges by establishing the “And Justice for All ...” discussions that have engaged college and community members. The program focuses on increasing meaningful dialogue on divisive issues affecting the nation, such as race, law enforcement, bias, defamation, economic injustice, incarceration, and gun control.

“I am strategically focused and passionate about developing policies, programs, and systems to improve access, completion, and equity in higher education,” says Selmon, who is a member of the Higher Learning Commission’s Peer Corps and serves as a peer reviewer for other colleges in their accreditation efforts.

Prior to coming to MCC, Selmon was the executive dean of student services at Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor after working in student services at Kennesaw State University in Atlanta. He began his career in Michigan with Grand Rapids Junior College, then joined the Davenport University Educational System. He held numerous administrative roles during his 18-year tenure there, leading to his position as the Davenport system’s group vice president. He has served with numerous community organizations.

All-American athlete

The Mansfield, Ohio, native earned a doctorate in educational leadership and a Master of Arts in educational leadership from Eastern Michigan University. He earned a Bachelor of Science in education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition, he has participated in several leadership programs and most recently was a 2020 graduate of the Aspen Institute’s Presidential Fellows Program.

An accomplished student-athlete, Selmon was a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) All-American wrestler on Grand Rapids Community College’s national championship team. He was elected to the NJCAA Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1990. At the University of Nebraska, he won the Big Eight Conference Outstanding Wrestler Award, was a two-time Big Eight Conference champion and a two-time Big Eight Academic Team honoree. He was an NCAA All-American who represented the United States in international competition.

The 2002 recipient of Grand Rapids Community College’s Distinguished Alumni Award, Selmon and his wife, Zephra, have been married for 35 years and have two adult children, Jonathan and Jacquelyn.

Related:

From musician to MCC president, a look at Dr. Dale Nesbary’s remarkable career
 

Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.