Dr. Mitchell set for retirement

As Dr. Judy Mitchell prepares for her retirement at the end of the semester, she continues to praise JJC, serve its community and show support for her successor.
Mitchell was approved in September of 2016 as the ninth president. She retires on August 31 and then she will end her career at JJC as a special advisor to the future president, Dr. Clyne Namuo, starting July 1.
“JJC means community. It means family,” says Dr. Mitchell. “I have been embraced since I was a returning adult student.” In 1998, as a first generation college graduate in her early 30s, she earned her associates degree in microcomputers for business and computer programming from JJC.
Mitchell expresses that she never thought she would become president of Joliet Junior College. However, supportive staff encouraged her to stay involved, keep going in school and move up at JJC.
With JJC serving seven counties, Mitchell expresses her pride in the college’s diversity, “We learn from each other…[I hope] for every student who enters this campus to feel welcomed and belong.”
Last year, JJC received the 2021 American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) diversity award. JJC was also one of the top 24 most promising places to work in community colleges across the country in regards to diversity.
Mitchell’s diversity concerns were not only for students, but for the staff as well.“Certain employees may not feel valued or listened to and so, the DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) initiative was one of my first priorities.”
“I’m so proud of our DEI department,” she adds while explaining how they have resolved these negative emotions and continue to make adjustments and increase awareness of diversity throughout the college.
Mitchell also faced a series of challenges throughout her six year president term.
“We went through a significant power outage, state budget prices, this [COVID-19] pandemic…civil unrest, mental health and its impact on our employees and students.”
These difficulties did not get in the way of her presidency. Mitchell and her team have worked hard for the students and staff of JJC. Within her presidency, new buildings, new layouts, and new programs (including orthotics, prosthetics and respiratory therapy) have been introduced. Additionally, technical advancements have been made including the use of virtual reality, as well as a modernized website with a new ERP system.
“All too often, we get so involved in the things [like] challenges and we forget about all the great work that we continue to do and that we continue to complete” said Mitchell.
Mitchell has also been known for leading JJC’s budgeting process and has helped reduce its operations costs by over $2 million over four years.
To show the college’s investment to the students, she explains how one year in particular, JJC received 25% of the promised state budget. However, they also were reimbursed a larger amount than expected. JJC used the refund to give back students $16 of the $19 increase; JJC was the only institution in Illinois that did this. Additionally, JJC has given over $800,000 in scholarships, has compensated students through emergency funds and also has mental health and wellness support for students struggling with financial issues.
Mitchell hopes to leave a legacy at JJC with her determination towards diversity, making school affordable and comfortable, and pushing through obstacles including a worldwide pandemic.
“I’ve been involved in so much. This recent recognition (referring to her acknowledgment from the city of Joliet)…recognition from different organizations, each one of them has a special meaning to me and it’s all about the impact that I made. I hope that for many years down the road…that they remember me.”
As a loyal resident of Will county for 42 years, Dr. Mitchell plans on staying engaged within the city of Joliet. She plans to continue her current involvement on the Silver Cross Hospital Board, the Joliet Group for Women, the Habitat for Humanity Board and the Joliet Area Historical Museum, to name a few.
As Namuo relocates from Arizona to JJC, Mitchell advises him to “really take time to walk around, meet and greet the employees, the students of the campus community, and embrace the campus culture.”
Mitchell herself enjoys taking in the campus culture as she says it is a “small town with a big heart.”
“I see our students and they keep me young. I get to see what the latest styles are and the trends. I get to listen to some of the language,” she adds.
Overall, Mitchell hopes for the best for the future of JJC, “I wish him the best success…I’ve been so honored and privileged to serve…I hope the best for him.”
Throughout her retirement, she plans on spending time with her family, especially her grandchildren. She has four grandkids with ages ranging from 8 months to 5 years old.
On Wednesday, May 4, JJC employees and students celebrated Mitchell’s retirement during a picnic lunch in the Picnic Grove and Wolves Den Cafeteria of the Main Campus.

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