The end of one chapter means the beginning of another for Itawamba Community College as it prepares to sendoff its current president and welcome a new leader later this year.

Last week, the ICC Board of Trustees selected Jay Allen as the college’s next president. The selection came after current president Mike Eaton, who has served in that role since 2013, announced in February that he would be retiring.

Allen is currently the president and CEO of Hopkinsville Community College in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, where he leads a student body of more than 3,000 students and a satellite center at the Fort Campbell Army Post and Todd County Career Path Institute.

Before Allen assumed the presidency at Hopkinsville in January 2014, he served in several leadership positions at Hinds Community College and as a senior-level administrator for Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College–Perkinston and the George County Center, for a combined total of 22 years.

Allen’s career so far includes experience with academics, career-technical, student services, institutional development, information technology, business services, athletics, workforce and other non-credit areas.

With an impressive resume and experience to match, Allen appears to be a quality candidate that will help the college continue on the path that Eaton has set during his time in the president’s office.

To say Eaton, who has worked at the college in various positions for 43 years, has led the college well during his tenure would be an understatement.

Under Eaton’s leadership, the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program named Itawamba Community College one of the nation’s top 150 community colleges three times, and WalletHub selected ICC as sixth best in the nation.

Currently, a five-year plan is revamping the Tupelo campus with the addition of a new physical plant and the construction of a two-story general academic building, which will house a commons area, food service, classrooms and administrative offices.

On the Fulton campus, a 13,585-square-foot multipurpose hazardous weather safe room is currently being built. It will also serve as a new home for ICC’s All-American Band.

Numerous other facility upgrades and construction projects are being done on both campuses.

Academic initiatives have also grown during Eaton’s tenure as president.

Most recently, ICC has partnered with several entities in the creation of the Furniture “Certified” Academy, which will enable its graduates to go to the front of the hiring line at participating industries and will result in a higher base pay upon employment.

We applaud Eaton for his tremendous commitment to the college over his extensive career and wish him a well-deserved retirement.

Eaton leaves big shoes to fill, but we encourage Allen to step in and continue the initiatives that have gotten ICC to this point while also looking ahead to the things that could push the college even further.

Community colleges continue playing a significant role in our communities, and we know ICC will continue serving our communities well with Allen at the helm.

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