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Drake State Leaders Appointed to New Presidential Roles


Dr. McAlpine will do an excellent job at Gadsden State, and she will ensure the school and its students perform at the highest levels. We have every confidence that Dr. McAlpine will advance economic development in the Gadsden area as she has done for us in Huntsville, and that, in turn, is good for Alabama. Drake State will continue to get our full support here in Huntsville.”

  The Honorable Tommy Battle, Huntsville Mayor

HUNTSVILLE, Al. – J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College President Helen T. McAlpine has been named interim president at Gadsden State Community College in Gadsden. The appointment is for one year, and Dr. McAlpine will be returning to Drake State upon completion of her appointment.  Dr. John Reutter III, Director of Planning and Resource Development, has been named acting president at Drake State until Dr. McAlpine returns. Both appointments are effective July 1.


The Alabama Community College System Chancellor, Dr. Mark Heinrich, announced the leadership changes during yesterday’s Board of Education meeting.


“Strong leadership through a transitional period is critically important, and I am appreciative of Dr. McAlpine’s and Dr. Reutter’s willingness to serve,” Dr. Heinrich said. “They both bring a wealth of knowledge to the positions, and I know that they will be great assets to their colleges.”


Although Dr. McAlpine was honored by the appointment, the Drake State President was far more impressed by Dr. Heinrich’s focus on the improvement of the System. “I absolutely admire our outstanding Chancellor for his commitment to our colleges and most especially our students,” she noted.


Dr. McAlpine made institutional history by becoming the first female president of Drake State in 2000. During her tenure, the college experienced a significant enrollment increase through expanded program offerings, including the implementation of a new workforce development division and an adult education program to transition individuals into programs that provide technical skills needed by area employers.


Dr. McAlpine has more than 40 years of experience in the field of education. Prior positions include assistant superintendent of the Huntsville City School System and positions with the Gadsden City School System and Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville. In September 2010, Dr. McAlpine was appointed by President Barack Obama as a member of the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.


Dr. McAlpine received her bachelor’s degree from Talladega College, a master’s degree from Jacksonville State University, and a doctorate from The University of Alabama.


As the third largest community college in the System, leading Gadsden State poses a welcome challenge for Dr. McAlpine. With approximately 6,000 students, more than four times the enrollment of Drake State, Dr. McAlpine’s record of continued growth and process improvement will ensure that Gadsden can now benefit from her unmatched experience. Being a Gadsden native and JSU graduate also make the transition to this new role a rewarding return to her roots.


Dr. Reutter has been with Drake State for more than eight years. Having served in multiple capacities at this institution, including a stint as dean of instruction in which he led the growth and development of academic programs and faculty, Dr. Reutter is honored and ready to take on the responsibilities of his new role.


“Dr. McAlpine and I are incredibly proud and pleased in the Chancellor’s level of confidence in us and our College. This truly is an remarkable endorsement on the quality of our institution,” stated Dr. Reutter.


As the acting president, Dr. Reutter wants to sustain the momentum that Dr. McAlpine has been driving since her arrival in 2000. “While our leadership styles will be different, I will continue the great work that our President began in the areas of enrollment, campus safety, instructional programs and technology.”


After a successful career in the private sector, including stints at Bell Laboratories and VISA,

Dr. Reutter founded two Silicon Valley software companies. He made the transition to postsecondary education in 1990. His previous academic experience included being dean of instruction at Ayers Technical College in Anniston, director of planning and research at Northwest-Shoals Community College in Muscle Shoals, and dean of the U.S. Air Force Immersion Education Program in Dayton, Ohio.


Dr. Reutter holds a Bachelor of Science degree in applied mathematics from California State Polytechnic University, a M.S. degree in computer science from Rutgers University, a M.B.A. from the University of North Alabama, and an Ed.D. in Higher Education from The University of Alabama.


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