Moses parts the Red Devil sea

Dr. Bruce Moses is the new president of Allen Community College. He's spent his first two months getting to know faculty, staff and students, as well as reaching out to business, industry and education leaders in Allen County and Kansas.



September 1, 2022 - 1:33 PM

As the new president, Dr. Bruce Moses is getting to know faculty, staff and students at Allen Community College. He’s also been busy introducing himself to the community at large. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

To call Dr. Bruce Moses’ first two months at Allen Community College a blur would be an understatement.

On top of getting to know the faculty, staff, and now students at ACC, the college president has jumped headfirst into reaching out to the community.

“We’re in full engagement mode,” Moses said this week, during an all-too-brief lull in his schedule. 

He’s reached out to business and industry leaders throughout Allen County, made multiple trips to Topeka to get to know higher education officials there and reached out to administrators at other colleges in the area, including Emporia State and Pittsburg State universities.

On top of that, Moses has begun talking with school administrators at Iola USD 257 and others in the county to discuss how to strengthen Allen’s relationship with those districts.

“This is my eighth week, and it feels like it’s been six months,” he laughed.

Truth be told, Moses wouldn’t want it any other way.

“This is what we expected when we got here,” Moses said. “This is a big transition. I wanted to hit the ground running.”

As part of the transition, Moses et al have begun the first steps in developing the college’s next strategic plan, which they’ll hammer out over the coming months.

That began with an internal “SCOT” exercise at the start of the school year, in which ACC staffers were invited to share their opinions on Allen’s strengths, challenges, opportunities and threats.

The next step will be a similar exercise with members of the community this fall, in order to gain an outsider’s perspective of the college, Moses said.

“Allen already has a great brand,” he said. “We want to enhance it.”

He’s already learned much, noting industries throughout Allen County are largely facing the same dilemma: trying to find quality employees.

That meshes with one of Moses’ passions: building career and technical education opportunities.

“They need workers, skilled employees,” he said. “I know the traditional student population is very much interested in getting short-term training for a livable wage job without having to go two, three or four years of college. We have a window of opportunity where we can make this happen.

“Moving forward, we will be a key player in the career and technology education phase,” he continued. “We have a lot of opportunities here, and ideal partners in the community. What I’ve said to everyone is, we want Allen to be your go-to institution. We want them to pick up the phone and call Allen first.”

MOSES, 54, grew up in Detroit, where his father worked in the automotive industry, and his mother worked at a state psychiatric hospital.

Young Bruce, meanwhile, saw himself going to college, the first in his family to do so.

“I was trying to follow my mom’s brother,” Moses recalled. “He worked in the banking industry, and it always impressed me how he always wore suits and ties. That’s what I wanted to do. He was my role model.”

Moses followed in his uncle’s footsteps, earning a football scholarship to Tennessee State in Nashville in his pursuit of a finance degree. A knee injury, however, curtailed his playing days after two years.

“Then one day my uncle told me he was afraid the banking industry was about to collapse, and I might want to consider another occupation.”

Moses took heed, and landed a job at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti initially as a physical plant foreman for the EMU campus.

His work there allowed Moses to stay with Eastern Michigan, both as an employee and as a student. Moses eventually went on to earn three college degrees there, while working his way up the college administrative ladder. He worked as a special assistant to the chief technology officer, then in accounts payable and finally as an executive director of planning.

Moses has bachelor’s degrees in finance and administrative management, a master’s degree in educational leadership from Eastern Michigan, and a doctorate in community college leadership from Ferris State University.

“Eastern Michigan is where I grew up as a professional,” he said.

After 17 years at EMU, Moses went to Northwest Arkansas Community College as an executive director of planning and institutional effectiveness, then to Pima County Community College in Tucson, Arizona.

His stint at Pima was cut short after his father was stricken with prostate cancer.

Moses moved back to the upper Midwest, getting a job as a consultant at Northwestern University before subsequently returning to Pima.

The experience at Northwestern, one of the elite universities in the world, while valuable, nevertheless convinced Moses his talents were better suited for community colleges.

“One of the things I felt as a first-generation college student was that I could see some of myself in community college students. Some of these students were coming from low socio-economic backgrounds, a more diverse population. This was an opportunity for them to change their trajectory, their families, their lives.

“I knew when I was at Northwestern that I couldn’t do anything for those kids,” he continued. “They were already driving better cars than I was. Their parents went to college, they were expected to go to college.

“And I also wanted to get back to warmer weather,” he laughed.

Kansas winters can get pretty cold as well, a Register reporter reminds him.

“I grew up in Michigan,” he replied, “where it would snow 10 or 12 inches, then it would get cold, and then it would snow 10 or 12 inches again. I can deal with it.

“My wife is the one who may be in for a rude awakening,” he laughed. “She’s never lived anywhere but Arizona until now.”

His wife, Celina, works in the financial aid department at Fort Scott Community College.

MOSES was working as vice chancellor for educational services and institutional integrity when he was hired last fall to replace the outgoing John Masterson as Allen’s president. 

Masterson’s tenure at Allen stretched nearly 50 years, first as a student, then as an instructor and finally the last 30 years as college president.

Moses compared the experience to an NFL quarterback replacing the legendary Tom Brady. 

“John left a very healthy institution, financially and culturally,” Moses said. “Now it’s my chance to build on it, put my own fingerprints on it.”

Hence the breakneck pace since arriving in Iola, a schedule he doesn’t expect to relax anytime soon.

“I’ve got a great team here,” he said. “I’m excited because they’re excited. These folks have strapped on their running shoes, too. They’re right there with me. They’re guiding me.”

And occasionally pulling back on the reins.

“I’m tapping into all the resources I can,” he said. 

Moses relies heavily on input from Allen officers like Tosca Harris, Rebecca Bilderback, Cynthia Jacobson, Lauren Maisberger and especially chief financial officer Roberta Nickell.

“Roberta’s been my rock,” he said. “She brings me back down to earth. I’ll say, ‘Here’s what I want to do.’ And she’ll never tell me no. She’ll say, we’ve got to think about it.”

MOSES envisions Allen as a major player for both traditional and non-traditional students.

“The education marketplace has changed,” he notes. “Now, you can get an education without leaving your office, or leaving your bedroom. You can get an education from multiple institutions at the same time.”

While Allen traditionally has centered on a strong core of on-campus, traditional students, future growth will rely on tapping into the growing demographic of those ages 25-40 in need of new job skills.

“Our community is too small to have employees uproot and leave,” he said. “That’s a challenge all these employers are facing. We want to shift our focus to make sure we’re embracing that adult learner.”



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