JWCC President Announces Retirement Plans

March 3, 2022

JWCC President Announces Retirement Plans

After a remarkable 36-years of coaching, teaching, administration and service in higher education, President Michael Elbe of John Wood Community College, has announced his plans to retire from the Illinois Community College System and transition out of his position at the College effective December 31, 2022. Elbe assumed the Office of the President in 2014.

President Elbe told the JWCC staff and faculty during a College-Wide meeting that he believes this is a good time to transition both for himself and his family and the College. He said he has been very fortunate and blessed with the opportunities provided to him over the past 32-years.

President Michael Elbe shared, “It has been an honor to serve as President of John Wood for these past eight-plus years and to work with so many individuals who are responsible for the College’s success — faculty, staff, administration, trustees and the community. Together, we shared a united commitment to student success and serving the citizens of our district.”

Diane Ary, JWCC Board of Trustees Chair said, “On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I offer my sincere congratulations to Mike. In searching for the right words to accept Mike’s announcement, this is bittersweet news for our college, our students’, and our community. The ‘sweet part’ of this announcement is the well-deserved and earned career achievement that is on Mike’s horizon. Mike has given us eight-plus years of outstanding leadership and accomplishments as our President. He has been a champion for our students and the mission of JWCC.”

During President Elbe’s tenure, JWCC has been recognized for its trailblazing leadership across a wide range of key student success areas, including working with a strategic focus collaboratively to create innovative and relevant academic and training programs with regional business leaders in the Tri-State area to support the workforce for today’s needs and tomorrow’s opportunities.

Ary shared, “It is a challenge to accept the ‘bitter part’ of this news. Our Board and all of us at this organization will certainly miss Mike’s passion, commitment, integrity, transparency, guidance, and friendship to the John Wood community. Mike’s shoes will be very difficult to fill.  For the last eight years, President Elbe has guided and led JWCC through some of the most challenging times in the College’s nearly 50 years.”

President Elbe’s leadership include these impressive accomplishments:  working with community and business leaders in the southeast part of our district to produce a new, innovative Southeast Education Center; creating a College-made Strategic Planning Model that produces yearly initiatives, long-range planning documents, key performance indicators while engaging the Board and all levels of employees in the process; working with the Orr Corporation to expand the partnership with the University of Illinois which led to a 2 million dollar capital campaign to raise private funding for the multi-purpose ag facility at the Agricultural Education Center in Baylis; being a wise manager of the College’s finances with balanced budgets ending fiscal years with positive revenue while growing our fund balance and helping the College’s Foundation to secure assets to surpass the 3 million dollar mark.

“Mike’s role at John Wood Community College will be very critical to replace. He leaves a legacy of commitment and achievement, and he leaves JWCC in a good position for new leadership to take the helm. John Wood Community College is looking forward to exciting years ahead with the opening of our new Orr Multi-Purpose Agricultural Facility, the expansion project at our Workforce Development Center and our 50th Anniversary celebratory year during 2023-24. He will be engaged in the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) reaccreditation process this October. A four-year faculty contract also provides stability for our future at JWCC,” Ary said.

The Board and administration are dedicated to proper succession planning at all levels of the College. This allows for the greatest outcomes and continuity for the highest quality of future leadership. “I am committed to leading the College while the Board of Trustees begins the process of selecting the next president,” President Elbe shared. “By conducting a search while I am still at John Wood, we will keep moving forward while preparing for a smooth transition.”

“As Board chair, I want to assure all faculty, staff, students, and community that our board is committed to a thorough and collaborative process to identify the next strategic leader for our college,” Ary stated. “This is the most important role for any board and we accept this responsibility understanding the significance. We have begun the process for selecting our next President. We will be evaluating both internal and external candidates with the assistance of an independent search firm. We are in the process of identifying search firms and will conduct interviews in the coming month to select the best firm for this undertaking. Further details on the search will be made available as it progresses. Mike’s planned retirement date is December 31, 2022.”

Over the course of his 30-years of professional experiences at four, 4-year colleges and on two occasions at John Wood, he has served as Director of Student Life and Athletics at JWCC, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Athletics at the University of Dubuque, IA, Academic Advisor at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington, NC, and Resident Director at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, NC.  Elbe also served as a faculty member at each of the four-year colleges where he was previously employed.

Elbe’s community involvement has included serving on numerous boards, including the Chair of the Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce, Chair of the Great River Economic Development Foundation, President of the United Way of Adams County, the Workforce Innovation Board, Tri-State Development Summit, Leader of the Adams County Together Task Force during COVID, Executive member of the Lower Illinois River Valley Rural Prosperity Initiative, and Presidential representative for the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).

President Elbe was recognized for his community service honors over the past eight years as the recipient of the 2017 Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s Shirley B. Gordon Award of Distinction, 2018 Joe Bonansinga Community Service Award, 2018 Phi Theta Kappa Shirley B. Gordon Award of Distinction, 2019 Quincy Chamber of Commerce Diversity & Inclusion Community Champion and the 2021 Thomas A. Oakley Award for Economic Innovation by GREDF.

A native of Camp Point, Elbe earned an Educational Specialist in Administration (Ed.S.) in December of 2013. He received a Master of Science in Education from the University of South Alabama (M.Ed.) and a Bachelor of Science in Education from Quincy University with a K-12 state of Illinois teaching certificate.   He is married to Gerri Elbe, and they have three adult children and two grandchildren.

Photo attached of President Michael Elbe, courtesy of the Herald-Whig.


John Wood Community College is the educational link between business and community. JWCC collaboratively creates innovative and relevant academic and training programs with business leaders to educate young people and the workforce for today's needs and tomorrow's opportunities. JWCC has centers in Quincy, Pittsfield, Baylis and Mt. Sterling, Illinois. Programs include a comprehensive baccalaureate transfer curriculum, customized business training, career/technical degrees, certificates, and personal enrichment courses.