Raspiller: John Tyler ready for ‘next level’
Dr. Edward E. “Ted” Raspiller wasn’t unhappy in his current post as president of the Brazos County Campuses at Blinn College. He wasn’t sending out résumés, looking for an escape route from Bryan, Texas.
But when Dr. Marshall Smith announced his retirement as president of John Tyler Community College last November, the “ideal opportunity,” as Raspiller described it, was simply too much for him to ignore.
“Virginia’s community college system is one of the best in the country,” Raspiller said in an interview with the Observer last week. “To be part of that at a school like John Tyler is very exciting.” At 48 years old, he will become the Chesterfield college’s seventh president on Aug. 5.
Nobody is more aware than Raspiller of the challenge inherent in succeeding Smith, who guided JTCC through a period of unprecedented growth during his nearly 23 years at the helm.
“Marshall Smith has done an unbelievable job,” Raspiller added. “The foundation is in place and they’re ready to go to the next level. I couldn’t have scripted it any better.”
A self-described “student of community colleges,” Raspiller began his pursuit of higher education by earning an associate’s degree from the College of DuPage in Illinois.
Having earned his doctorate from Northern Illinois University, he’s spent much of his career in the Midwest. In addition to two stints at Blinn College, he’s held positions at Southeastern Community College in Iowa, Waukesha County Technical College in Wisconsin and Texas State Technical College.
He does have ties to Virginia, though, having directed a doctoral program in Community College Leadership at Old Dominion University from 2006 to 2010.
Glenn DuBois, chancellor of the Virginia Community College System, referenced Raspiller’s familiarity with the commonwealth and his “thorough pedigree” as two of the many factors that made him the most attractive candidate for JTCC.
“It came down to fit,” DuBois said. “He has a lot of sizzle, a lot of energy. He’s very personable and he’ll be able to relate to a lot of folks on campus, regardless of their position.”
DuBois, who said that he’s hired 20 presidents during his tenure as chancellor of Virginia’s community colleges, noted that “my track record is pretty good.
“I have no doubts that Ted will do a fantastic job,” he added.
Neither does Art Heinz, chair of the JTCC Board, which held on-campus interviews with each of the finalists and arrived at a “very strong consensus that Dr. Raspiller was the right choice.
“He was able to very clearly articulate his vision for John Tyler,” Heinz said. “He knows what to do and how to do it.”
While DuBois acknowledged that “some things will be different” with the transition to a new president, both he and Heinz insist that Raspiller won’t be inclined to make sweeping changes just to put his personal stamp on the college.
Raspiller echoed those remarks and said it would be “a disservice” for him to come into his new position with a preconceived agenda for JTCC’s future.
His first step will be to learn about the college’s current initiatives, processes and procedures. He’s also focused on building relationships with faculty, staff, students and residents of the communities it serves.
“We have to move forward together,” Raspiller added. “For the first few months, I’ll lead with my ears and I’ll use them for the rest of my time there.”