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Jackson College Presidents

A committed, insightful group of leaders have guided the College throughout its history. Through the changing times and trends, each has used his gifts to ensure the College offers outstanding educational opportunities and is a resource to the community.


William Atkinson

1940-1942 Dean
1945-1951 Dean (WWII Navy Lt. 1942-45)
1952-1964 President of JJC
1965-1969 President of JCC

Dr. William N. Atkinson came to Jackson Junior College in 1940 as dean, bringing experience both as a teacher and as an administrator, serving until 1941 when he left to serve in the U.S. Navy in World War II. He returned in 1945, also acting as deputy superintendent of schools for the Union School District, and in 1952 became the College’s first full-time president. Atkinson was the first president of the new Jackson Community College, serving until 1969. The remarkable growth of the College, a new campus under the direction of an autonomous Board of Trustees attests to the quality of his leadership. He was dedicated not only to the development of this College, but to community colleges in general. Even with the demands upon him, Atkinson always managed time for his faculty and students.

Harold D. McAninch

1968-1969 Vice President
1969-1971 President of JCC

Dr. Harold D. McAninch served as vice president of instruction at the new Jackson Community College from 1968-69 and served as president from 1970-71. McAninch was a U.S. Army veteran who began his education career as a part-time speech teacher at the University of Arkansas. He taught at two high schools and one community college before moving to Jackson College. From Jackson, he moved on to the Joliet Junior College, earning a reputation as a builder, and in 1979-1994 he became president of College of DuPage. In his farewell address to JCC graduates in 1971, McAninch said: “We reflect the rich fabric of our society, its good, its evil, its black, its white, its rich, its students from 8 to 80, from all elements in our community. This is the character of the community college: Not separated by ivory towers but remaining close to the people and serving their needs.”

Harold V. Sheffer

1972-1981 President of JCC

Harold V. Sheffer was appointed as third president of Jackson Community College in 1972. He brought a diverse background, having worked in business, a non-profit and as a cleric in both the Methodist and Episcopal churches. The remarkable growth in student enrollment and physical facilities attests to his vision and planning skills. His term of office was marked by the development of the George E. Potter Center, Michigan Space Center, Dahlem Environmental Education Center, Michigan School of the Arts and the Flight Center. In 1993, the College named the Music Hall after Sheffer. He was also a recognized leader at the state levels and among fellow community college presidents, leading to the presidency of the Michigan Community College Association and
numerous gubernatorial appointments to statewide committees.

Clyde E. LeTarte

1981-1993, President of JCC

Clyde LeTarte held several academic positions throughout his exceptional career before taking the Jackson Community College presidency in 1981. He faced turbulent times with difficult budget decisions during his years as Jackson College president, but proved himself to be a strong leader who was respected by his employees. He extended the College’s reach into Lenawee County in 1989 and Hillsdale County in 1991, increasing the College’s enrollment. The Hillsdale center today is named for him. LeTarte was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives, serving House District 65 from 1993-1998.

E. Lee Howser

1993-2000, President of JCC

Dr. E. Lee Howser served as the fifth president of Jackson Community College from 1993 to 2001. He served the College 32 years, also holding positions as director of public information, assistant to the president, and vice president for administration. He was instrumental in encouraging the Learning College concept and led the College through an extensive visioning project. He was committed to the CARE program, which offered scholarships to middle school students who could benefit upon successful graduation from high school, and vigorously supported the Day Care Center on campus. He and his wife, Norma, initiated a restoration project for the Wickwire House.

Daniel J. Phelan

2001 – present, President of JCC, Jackson College

Dr. Daniel J. Phelan became the sixth president of Jackson Community College in early 2001. Continuous innovation, quality, service and vision for an improved future of student success have continued to define Phelan’s contribution to the community college movement. During his tenure, all campuses have been transformed with renovations and new buildings constructed, and innovations like on-campus student housing launched. Student life initiatives were enhanced and athletics returned to the College during his presidency, responding to students’ desires for a well-rounded college experience. He also has helped initiate the College’s focus on a “Total Commitment to Student Success.” Phelan is active at the state and national levels for community colleges, and has received multiple accolades and recognitions for his achievements.