Although she doesn’t yet have pictures hung on the walls of her house, Dr. Jo Alice Blondin has now called Springfield, Ohio, “home” for two years. On July 1 of 2013, Blondin began her tenure as president of Clark State Community College, having made the move from Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus where she served as chancellor and professor of English for seven years.
“I loved my position in Arkansas, but a number of factors contributed to my move,” said Blondin. “Clark State was a great opportunity and a good fit for me; I was energized and excited about the new performance-based funding model implemented in Ohio.” The move to Clark State also allowed Blondin the opportunity to return to the Midwest and be closer to family; she is from Carmel, Indiana, and her husband is from Wooster, Ohio.
Blondin said the transition to Clark State has been smooth. “It has been wonderful because of our Board of Trustees, our Foundation Board and the campus community.” She came to Clark State with specific goals for herself and the college including listening and learning from the faculty, staff, students and community members. “I also brought with me a relentless focus on being student-centered, responsive and innovative,” Blondin said. “My biggest goal was to create a collaborative process that allowed all constituencies at Clark State to plan our future together rather than react to the constantly changing world of higher education.”
Peggy Noonan, chairperson of the Clark State Board of Trustees, said Blondin brings a strong skill set to Clark State. Her previous experience also includes tenure as chief academic officer; chief student officer; department chair of English, communication and social sciences; and instructor of English. Noonan said the Board appreciates Blondin’s mantra to put students and their needs first, her inclusive leadership style and the open, detailed communications she maintains with the Board. “Dr. Blondin is an engaged, energetic leader who has become very involved and active in the Springfield Clark County community,” said Noonan. “New, innovative courses of study have been introduced under her leadership, and she has succeeded in bringing major new grant funding to the College.”
Noonan stated that Clark State’s enrollment numbers have increased over the past year. As the 2015-16 school year approaches, Blondin will continue to focus on enrollment - including retention and placement - and ensuring responsiveness to businesses, industries and partnerships with four-year institutions. “We are also focusing on how to improve student life on campus and create a more robust environment for students outside the classroom.”
Blondin strives daily to make a positive impact on student lives. She values competence and character, and she emphasizes the importance of collaboration between faculty, staff and students. She also seeks out ways to ensure the affordability of a Clark State education. “Financial aid is our Admissions Office,” she said. “Clark State faculty and staff are here to help our students succeed in life and enrich the lives of the communities we serve. Clark State, and all community colleges, are the gateway to the middle class; we represent affordability and quality in higher education.”