When Tim Bennett, former vice president of Business Affairs, took early retirement, the college needed an immediate replacement.
That replacement came in the form of two MCCC employees, Sue Wetzel and Daniel Schwab.
Wetzel was formerly the director of Institutional Advancement and executive director of the MCCC Foundation. She is now the vice president of Administration.
Previously the college controller, Schwab was promoted to Business Manager and Treasurer. He now handles Bennett’s prior financial and budget operations.
Both employees began their new positions just days after the retirement was announced.
MCCC President David Nixon said that when he learned Bennett and 49 others were eligible for retirement, he began thinking over potential replacements.
“In succession planning, you always have to think forward,” Nixon said. “If somebody unexpectedly leaves, who would you, in an emergency, replace them with?”
Nixon said that promoting Wetzel and Schwab for the position was a “no brainer.” “In this case we had two people that were perfect in their backgrounds to move right in,” Nixon said.
Wetzel first started at MCCC 23 years ago as the director of Community Relations.
As her responsibilities grew, she was promoted to her role as director of Institutional Advancement and executive director of the Foundation.
Before working at MCCC, she was the director of Public Relations at a community college in Illinois, a job that she said was very similar to her first position at MCCC.
Nixon spoke of some of Wetzel’s accomplishments, including coordinating the activities and strategies for the fundraising efforts for the La-Z-Boy center, and engaging the college in applying for federal grants.
“She developed a grant writer out of Beth Kohler, the author of the grant that brought in $1.6 million for the welding center of excellence,” Nixon said.
Under Wetzel’s leadership, MCCC also received another grant for $1.6 million, along with the Upward Bound grant.
“They’ve done a remarkable job and it’s all been due to her leadership,” Nixon said.
Wetzel has also obtained a master’s degree in mass communication from Central Michigan University.
The promotion has brought a variety of new responsibilities to Wetzel’s plate, including risk management, auxiliary funds, oversight on the bookstore, and working alongside Schwab with the budget and financial aspects of the college.
She also will work with Jim Blumberg, the director of the Physical Plant, on oversight of the physical facilities of the college.
Wetzel said that for the time being the college will not be hiring a replacement for her prior responsibility of leading the Foundation.
“At this point, that’s the plan, that I’ll stay on and serve as executive director of the Foundation, as well as my new responsibilities,” she said.
She also will be continuing oversight of the marketing/PR functions of the college, working with Joe Verkennes, the director of Marketing.
Verkennes has worked for the college under Wetzel’s supervision since 2005, but that was not the first time the two worked together.
When the college issued a request for a branding initiative two years ago, Verkennes’ previous employer, Hart Associates in Toledo, won the bid.
While with Hart, Verkennes worked with the previous MCCC Marketing Director, Deb Weiss, and Wetzel to perform marketing and branding research, and eventually incorporate the new MCCC logo, tagline, and television commercials.
“Our history goes back more than five years,” Verkennes said. “It goes back about two more through that major project.”
Verkennes said he has known Wetzel to be a strong leader; one who leads not only by example but also as a mentor. Additionally, he said he thinks she is handling her new position well and with “pretty typical flair for Sue.”
“It’s been a very smooth transition and I think if anybody but Sue were handling it, it would probably be a lot less smooth than it is,” Verkennes said.
As for the other side of the position, Schwab has worked for the college for 27 years as the college controller.
He attended Michigan State University as well as the University of Toledo, and has obtained a master’s degree in business. Additionally, he became a Certified Public Accountant.
Prior to MCCC he worked at a CPA firm.
As with Wetzel, Nixon listed many of Schwab’s accomplishments over his 27-year history with the college.
“I could sit here and tell you all of the things that Dan has done,” Nixon said. “All of the things that the public might not consider.”
Schwab was responsible for leading the development of Data Tel, MCCC’s computerized data system, and leading and directing the transition of employee time sheets to keeping record by computer.
Additionally, the college has a very good record on its audits, Nixon said.
Schwab also belongs to the Michigan Community College Business Officers’ Association, which hosts meetings attended by business officers from each of the 28 community colleges in Michigan.
“The part that’s probably the most important is that he’s familiar with how bad things are in Michigan,” Nixon said. “He’s been attending those meetings for
years and he is very familiar with what the state is facing.”
In his previous Controller position, Schwab was in charge of accounting, working with auditors, financial statements, budgets, payroll, student accounts, receivables, and student accounting.
As the Business Manager and Treasurer, he will be maintaining all of the previous responsibilities along with some additional duties and working more directly with the Board of Trustees.
Nixon said Schwab hit the ground running as he started the new position.
“It was like walking into a job that he’s very knowledgeable of,” he said. “That would have been a really challenging situation if we were starting with a brand new hire.”
Schwab said he is currently working on closing out MCCC’s fiscal year, and will be working with auditors regarding financial statements and the annual audit.
“It’s a very busy time of year for me,” he said.
Wetzel said she is currently taking the time to fully learn her new position.
“For me, this first semester will be about learning all of the pieces and parts of the position,” she said.
She said her goal is to get to December with a full understanding of all of the areas and responsibilities as the college moves into budget cycle.
The characteristic that made Schwab and Wetzel the best candidates for the positions was intellectual leadership, Nixon said.
“Both of them are smart, and both of them are good at managing processes.”
Nixon said their histories stood out to him as well.
“They both have such a long record of exemplary accomplishments that they’ve done,” he said. “We are absolutely lucky.”