A casual referral in 2002 to an open position at Macomb Community College changed the trajectory of Jim Sawyer’s career.
At the time, Sawyer was exploring next steps. With the closing of the New Haven Foundry, his position as senior technical manager at the facility had come to an end. Since graduating from Lawrence Technological University with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, he had amassed 17 years experience in leadership positions in engineering, quality and operations, as well earning a master’s in business administration.
The position of dean of Engineering & Advanced Technology at the college was a great fit for Sawyer, marrying his in-depth understanding of industry, business leadership experience, and commitment to the education. He notes that he has always strongly believed in the value of education, not only for himself but also for employees he has supervised.
“I saw the position as a great opportunity to contribute to an important community resource while developing new skills and competencies that I would be able to apply when I went back to business and industry,” said Sawyer. “However, I was quickly hooked on what Macomb is all about – the power of education to make a difference in our students’ lives and in the vitality of our community. What I initially thought would be a somewhat brief experience away from industry proved to be my entry into the career of a lifetime.”
From dean, Sawyer advanced next to vice provost for Career Programs before becoming provost and senior vice president for the Learning Unit. He was named Macomb’s president by the college’s board of trustees after a national search and assumed the presidency on July 1.
Sawyer notes that his foremost priority – and passion – is student success. “I’m looking forward to working with Macomb’s talented faculty and staff in developing meaningful resources and support to help students overcome barriers that sometimes interfere with their goals. This means continuing to innovate, while maintaining agility to address change, to create relevant learning experiences that enable more students to advance.”
He points out that student success at Macomb is not a one-size-fits-all proposition, with individuals sometimes pursuing very different objectives. These can include earning a credential that provides direct entry to the workforce, working toward an advanced degree, mastering a new skill or learning for personal satisfaction./p>
Sawyer also emphasizes that Macomb will continue to enhance current strengths. “We will work to deepen our collaborations with K-12 and university partners, enhancing educational pathways that allow our residents to reach their educational goals efficiently by minimizing duplication and loss of credits,” said Sawyer.
“Our students rely on us to connect them to workplace opportunities, and our area’s employers also count on us to provide a skilled workforce,” noted Sawyer. “Our role is not just to educate students for the jobs of today, but to help them develop the skills to embrace learning throughout their careers.”
As a Macomb County resident for more than 40 years, Sawyer knows that the college is a vital community resource for education, enrichment and economic development. “I’m looking forward to working in tandem with the community to ensure that Macomb Community College remains their trusted destination for earning credentials, connecting to the workplace and realizing meaningful arts and cultural experiences.”