Fort Lauderdale, Fla (December 12, 2017) – Broward College President J. David Armstrong, Jr. today announced his plans for retirement at the monthly meeting of the Broward College District Board of Trustees. After more than 33 years in the Florida College System and just over 10 years as president at Broward College, Armstrong stated his intention to leave the position effective June 30, 2018. The board will have six months to hold a national search and selection process for the next leader of the College.
"Broward College is one of the top colleges in America. I am proud and honored to have built an outstanding team and to have the support of an excellent board who has challenged me and helped us reach national standing and recognition," said Armstrong. "My decision to step away was not easy, but I feel confident that, with all the organization has achieved, the timing is right. We have an executive leadership team who will help the next president continue to build on the College's commitment to student success and achievement. Undoubtedly, our board will have a 'world-class' pool of candidates to consider as they select the next president."
Armstrong, 60, said the decision has been a part of a year-long plan to position the College for the transition. Three years ago, he entered the Florida Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP), which requires participants to retire within five years of election to participate. "The reality is my retirement planning actually began when I entered DROP. This past year, I formulated a more specific strategy that would be best for the College to recruit a new president," he said.
Ten Years of Success
The College has achieved many accomplishments over the last 10 years, which Armstrong summarized in a "State of the College" address today. These achievements include an increase in headcount enrollment from 47,111 to 64,097 and more than 91,000 graduates. In 2008, the College became a state college, offering its first bachelor's degrees in high-demand STEM teacher education and growing to a total of 12 bachelors' degrees in critical need workforce areas. Broward College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and baccalaureate degrees. Contact the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Broward College.
The successes of the last decade have not only led to significant growth and expansion in programs, but recognition nationally with grants and gifts to support programs and scholarships for students. The College also has achieved recognition by the Aspen Institute as a Top 10 College in the Nation twice in the last five years. The most recent cycle recognized the College as a "Finalist with Distinction" and awarded a $100,000 prize, which he directed to fund faculty innovation grants which support best practices.
Armstrong said this is the result of the quality of the leadership team, something for which he takes personal pride. "A key accomplishment I personally take pride in is recruiting, developing, and coaching a great team that provides leadership for Broward College. I have had the great privilege to collaborate with our board to set out a vision and overall strategy for the College, but our executive leadership team members are the ones who do the day-to-day work, and they execute very well. Together with a dedicated faculty, and staff who serve our students with passion, they embody our mission to help students learn and achieve their dreams."
The retention, persistence, successes in completion, and placements into quality careers by Broward College have been steadily improving over the years.
Major physical improvements also have been made to the College under President Armstrong's leadership, including new art and health sciences simulation facilities on the A. Hugh Adams Central Campus, a new science and STEM teaching and laboratory facility on the Judson A. Samuels South Campus, and a complete renovation of one of two of the largest teaching buildings on the North Campus. Additionally, the College has orchestrated a new center in Miramar with Florida International University (FIU) as a partner and, in recent months, brokered a deal with the Stiles Corporation to develop its downtown, Las Olas Boulevard property.
Armstrong said he is also very proud of the many community engagement programs that have launched to promote community dialogue and engagement. "Through programs such as our Broward College Speaker Series which boasts outstanding speakers including this year's Thomas Friedman, our Village Square programming which brings together community leaders to discuss important topics like affordable housing and homelessness, and service projects including our Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service grant which funds community organizations, we have instilled a sense of community in our students, faculty, and staff as active volunteers and participants."
Retirement and Transition Plans
For the next six months, President Armstrong will continue to lead Broward College while working with its leadership to formulate a plan which will ensure a smooth transition for its students, faculty, and staff. "My immediate plans are to continue working hard to strengthen our programs to help students succeed and build sustainable partnerships with business and industry to provide a trained workforce for our employers," he said. "I will also help the board recruit top candidates for their consideration and then help the new president transition into the role before I step aside on June 30."
Armstrong said he hopes to take one or two years to recharge and spend time with family before deciding on the next stage of his professional life.
"The last 10 years have been one of the most challenging and rewarding of my 33-plus years working in our state college system. When I leave in June, I am grateful to have a sabbatical year provided by the College so I can read deeply and focus on scholarship, possibly write, and perhaps return to school," said Armstrong. "I want to take a year or two to work on postgraduate studies and scholarship in areas where I have interests. I have become fascinated by the growth and development of Asia, China, and Vietnam, in particular, and I'd like to explore these new interests and refresh my knowledge in the areas of international relations and higher education management. When I reemerge, I would be honored to return to Broward College and join our faculty to teach, potentially consider another leadership role, or perhaps work in international education. It has been 20 years since I taught formally in the classroom, but I am ready to reenter the gratifying role of educating the next generation."
Armstrong said Fort Lauderdale will continue to be his primary residence, in addition to the small farm he and his family own near his birthplace in Birmingham, Alabama. "South Florida has become home for me. It is not only my professional family at Broward College which is important to me but also my many friends and colleagues in the business and non-profit community that I want to continue to work with. Perhaps, even more so after retirement when I have more time."
His son Georg, now 19, is a graduate of Broward County Virtual High School, Broward College, and the University of Central Florida where he received a bachelor's degree in international relations this past year. He is now enrolled in his first year of a master's degree program with Northeastern University while continuing to pursue his passion to play professional soccer. His wife, Antonia is a part-time online college professor, a translator for novels, and a full-time mom supporting Georg's soccer goals.
"We are very grateful for the outstanding educational and athletic opportunities our son has had since we moved here. He is a testament to the quality of our schools," Armstrong said. "Georg started fifth grade at Harbordale Elementary School when we moved here, then transferred to middle school at St. Mark's Episcopal School where he was given outstanding learning opportunities. His freshman year at St. Thomas Aquinas was exceptional, but he transferred to the excellent public Broward Virtual School which gave him the flexibility to train for soccer and take some dual enrollment online courses with Broward College," Armstrong said. "We are appreciative to all of the outstanding teachers and staff who supported his success over the last decade. He is a great example of the many excellent educational options available in Broward County."
Quotes of Congratulations from the Community:
Broward College Board of Trustee Chair John A. Benz
"President Armstrong has helped Broward College become one of the most prestigious colleges in the nation. The Broward College Board of Trustees and I are extremely grateful for his ten years of leadership and we wish him the best as he transitions into retirement. While he will be hard to replace, we will ensure, through a national search, that we will find the right candidate who will continue his legacy of success."
Sean Guerin, Former Chair of the Broward College Board of Trustee
"President Armstrong came to Broward College at such a critical time. We needed his vision and leadership not only at the College but also in the community. There was a rallying cry in our area for strong leadership and the community embraced what he has done more than ever before. He jumped in with both feet, dealing with issues head-on in a transparent way, always with character and integrity. It is hard to believe we have experienced ten years of his unique leadership and we are so thankful for his leaving the College in a much better position to do even greater things for our community and our state."
Madeline Pumariega, Chancellor of the Florida College System
"David has been a great champion for higher education and students in Florida for the past 33 years. As chancellor, he pioneered the system and took it to the next level to be recognized nationally. As president at Broward College, through his innovative leadership, he once again elevated our state colleges to a national platform with awards and recognition. David's passion for students has made a difference in countless lives, which leaves a far-reaching legacy across our state."
Joshua Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute's College Excellence Program
"President Armstrong has been a transformational leader. As part of the Aspen Prize process, I have spent seven years observing and measuring Broward's progress in achieving student success goals. So much incredible work during David's tenure deserves recognition, but the bottom line is this: hundreds of thousands of students have more opportunity, innumerable families have brighter futures, and the entire community around Broward has strengthened because of David's focus on what matters most -- developing talent from every part of his community."
Walter Bumfus, Ph.D., President and CEO of American Association of Community Colleges
"David is such an amazing leader. It will be such a loss, not just for Broward College but for all higher education. He has done so much at the system and college level in his many positions. He has been at the forefront of transformational activities which has made the state of Florida a leader in education. I am so proud and happy for my good friend."
Mark B. Rosenberg, Ph.D., President of Florida International University
"This is a huge loss for all of us in the education community. President Armstrong has an exemplary commitment to access and uplifting communities and we are sorry to see him leave."
Eduardo Padron, Ph.D., President of Miami Dade College
"As President of Broward College, and formerly as Chancellor of the Florida Community College System, President Armstrong has left an indelible mark on our state's higher education system. His unparalleled commitment to our South Florida community is truly admirable, as is his work to strengthen our region's workforce. It has been an honor to collaborate with President Armstrong for so many years, as we work to ensure the South Florida community has access to high quality and affordable educational opportunities."
Andy Rosen, CEO of Kaplan, Inc.
"A strong community college is the secret engine for almost any thriving local economy. Here in Broward County, David Armstrong took a good community college and turned it into one of the nation's very best. He did it by focusing on two things: what students need to be successful and what the local economy needs to grow. Tens of thousands of well-educated students are building successful careers at thousands of local businesses and organizations thanks to his leadership — including at my company. Even while guiding Broward College to excellence, David became an indispensable and hugely popular community leader, bringing energy, wisdom and humor to organizations throughout the county (and around the country). He's been a great friend and mentor to me, and I'm so grateful that will continue. We've been incredibly fortunate to have one of the best academic leaders and finest people you'll ever know to lead one of our community's essential institutions. His retirement leaves enormous shoes to fill."
Robert Runcie, Broward County Public Schools Superintendent
"Through his leadership, we have seen tremendous progress and gains at Broward College, certainly recognized nationally through the various Aspen Institute awards but, more importantly, our students have really benefitted. Broward College is a number one destination for students in South Florida and we have enjoyed the partnership with Broward College. From dual enrollment to resources ensuring our students are college and career ready, our partnership has been the model and the envy of other districts in Florida. We are fortunate and blessed to benefit from his leadership and, on top of it all, he is a great human being who cares deeply about his community, employees, and most of all, his students. He's a role model of outstanding leadership for us all."
James Donnelly, Chair of the Broward Workshop
"What David Armstrong has done for Broward College is only exceeded by what he has done for our county. I am deeply appreciative of his genius, his generosity and his friendship. David will be leaving a Broward College that is number three in the nation thanks to his leadership. I wish David and his family an equally rewarding retirement."
U.S. Senator George LeMieux, Chairman of the Board for Gunster, Yokley & Stewart
"David Armstrong is a transformative leader. Under his stewardship, Broward College has accelerated into a nationally recognized preeminent state college. More importantly, David has served with a servant's heart to ensure that all young people in Broward have the skills they need to find meaningful work and pursue their dreams. I look forward to David's next chapter in education and public service and feel blessed for all that he has given to our community."
City of Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler
"Broward College President David Armstrong has been an incredible leader and community builder in Fort Lauderdale. From an education standpoint, David has positively impacted thousands of students and faculty members but, from a community standpoint, David has transformed South Florida in terms of jobs, economic growth, redevelopment, and beyond. David always understood how higher education elevates a community and how an elevated community greatly benefits higher education. We will miss David's leadership, service, and vision, but we certainly wish his family and his continued good health, happiness, success, and prosperity. On behalf of Fort Lauderdale, thank you, President Armstrong!"
Dan Lindblade, President and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce
"The legacy President David Armstrong has built for Broward College, its students, faculty and our region over the past 10 years has local, statewide and international impacts. From his relationships and programming at Broward College Vietnam to being named the Chamber's Hall of Fame honoree at the 2017 Salute to Business Awards and securing the coveted Aspen Prize as a Top 3 College, President Armstrong's vast footprint will be seen for years to come. His are surely difficult shoes to fill."
Juliet Roulhac, Regional Manager for Corporate External Affairs for Florida Power & Light Company
"David Armstrong is an innovator and a visionary. He is always thoughtful about moving the College in a forward direction while remaining true to the students and their needs. He is thoroughly engaged in the business community so that he has a pulse on what our local economy requires for success while ensuring his students are prepared to enter the workforce. David's authenticity and approachability have made it easy to support him and the College and I will forever be grateful for knowing him and having had the opportunity to work alongside him in his role."
Germaine Smith-Baugh, Ed.D., President and CEO of Urban League of Broward County
"First and foremost, I want to congratulate President Armstrong for his leadership – it is only a true leader who knows when it is time to turn over the baton. What has been glaringly consistent in my work with David is his commitment to diversity within higher education and ensuring each student is successful at Broward College. He has created partnerships to ensure minority student achievements at graduation and beyond in their careers. The other unique quality about his leadership has been his ability to make himself personally available and accessible to the community. That model has permeated throughout all of Broward College, making our Urban League partnership practical, real, and effective. His kind of leadership doesn't go away with retirement and I admire what he has done – he has
cultivated seeds that have sprouted into deeply rooted oak trees which will shade future generations for years to come."
Josie Bacallao, President and CEO of Hispanic Unity Foundation
"I still remember ten years ago when I was part of the Broward College's search committee. We interviewed an impressive group of candidates but when David Armstrong walked in - we all knew - he would be Broward College's new President. He has not disappointed. He toured Hispanic Unity shortly after taking over and I was encouraged by his commitment to serving Broward County's diverse student population. He believes in the value of inclusion and the power of diversity to solve our community's problems. I salute President Armstrong for the great work he's done and for the strong partnership Broward College and Hispanic Unity has forged over the years."
Bob Swindell, President and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance
"David Armstrong is one of the nation's most innovative leaders in higher education. He has built an environment at the college that ties student success with career fulfillment and enjoyment; thoughtfully engaging students to discover their talents and passion. On a personal note, during my first two years as CEO of the Alliance, David was the best mentor and friend I could have asked as my Board Chairman."
About Broward College:
Serving more than 63,000 students annually, Broward College offers certificate programs, two-year university-transfer degrees, two-year career degrees and baccalaureate degrees in selected programs. The mission of the college is to provide high-quality educational programs and services that are affordable and accessible to a diverse community of learners. For more information, visit www.broward.edu.