President Joe Sopcich assumed his position at the college in 2013 and is now in his sixth year at the presidency. He took the time to sit down with the Campus Ledger to discuss his career at the college.
When Sopcich reflected on the accomplishments of his presidency, he did not view any accomplishment as solely his own.
“You don’t really sit back and say, ‘What’s my greatest accomplishment?’” Sopcich said. “The accomplishments that happen here on this campus reflect the work of a lot of people. Everything we do here is kind of a large team effort and that’s always been how the college operates in higher education. The biggest accomplishment you can have as a president is to see students succeed. That is my biggest accomplishment.”
The college’s influence and notoriety has grown over the years, leading to the college’s number one rating for community colleges in Kansas and number eight for community colleges across the nation.
“[Johnson County Community College] nationally is highly regarded,” Sopcich said. “We do many wonderful things in the classroom and outside of it, in the community; the outreach that we’ve had is pretty sensational. We have always been a piece of the overall county fabric here.”
Sopcich reflected on his interaction with students and only wishes that he had more time to see student success firsthand because he feels the chance to meet with students is more difficult in an administrative role.
Although Sopcich has been proud of his time as the college’s president, it comes with a bittersweet limitation: he isn’t able to see students at work.
“If I had any regrets, it would be not taking time to enjoy all the wonderful things that are happening and to be there in the middle of it, or to be able to see the look on a student’s face when they get it and to really be a part of their experiences overall,” Sopcich said. “I was able to go Model UN to NYC for the worldwide competition. That was one of the greatest experiences I had, being able to see our students compete internationally and do really well.”
The Model UN event, as well as other extracurriculars, are largely important to Sopcich. The president rarely involved himself in extracurriculars during his time at college and doesn’t want current students to feel the same regret.
“What you do in the classroom is great, it’s essential, it’s the most important thing,” Sopcich said. “Almost equally important is what you do on the campus and how you get engaged in student life.”
Sopcich started working at the college in 1992, and an overarching concern of his presidency is a movement to keep the college modern, especially in relation to incoming students — this includes modernizing curriculum as well as the campus. Part of this includes the increasingly addressed issue of poverty among students.
“I think other challenges we have today in colleges, moving in that direction are addressing scarcity issues with students,” Sopcich said. “Be that with food, transportation, clothing, six years ago, those discussions weren’t really happening the way they are now and that’s a nationwide issue. Those are changes on a very small scale that have happened over the past six years.”
Although Sopcich’s presidency has been mostly devoid of conflict or scandal, this semester saw a collection of insensitive remarks by the president live tweeted in early February. Overheard by DNC member Chris Reeves, the comments touched on the supposed lack of poverty at the college.
When asked about what he may regret from his presidency, Sopcich expressed a need for reflection.
“Perhaps if I had to do some things differently, I would step back a little bit and be a little more reflective on certain things,” Sopcich said. “That would always be helpful to do.”
Overall, though, the future of the college is bright, mainly due to the wonderful staff and faculty that work here.
“The future of the college is bright, and that’s because of the remarkable people that work here,” Sopcich said. “Faculty and staff are really committed professionals, and they are passionate. When you have that type of passion accompanied with a high level of talent, there is no end to what you can do.”