Weekly Feature



2017-05-18 / Lifestyles

Preparing for retirement, Quinn reflects on career in education, government

by NICK KONOTOPSKYJ
Reporter


Erie Community College President Jack Quinn addresses new scholarships for students on the steps of City Campus. Erie Community College President Jack Quinn addresses new scholarships for students on the steps of City Campus. All good things must come to an end, and for Erie Community College President Jack Quinn Jr., that is occurring this week, as he steps down from the post following Wednesday’s commencement ceremony.

Quinn joined ECC as the 10th president in school history in April 2008, and he has cherished his nine-year run as head of the school.

“I’ve lived in Western New York for my entire life, so 66 years. I thought I knew everything there is to know about ECC,” Quinn said. “When I got here as the president, I found out about all of the positive things that are happening here, and the way this school changes people’s lives for the positive is just amazing.”

Quinn graduated from Bishop Timon High School in 1969 and earned a bachelor’s degree in English education from Siena College and a master’s degree, also in English education, from the University at Buffalo. He taught English in the Orchard Park School District from 1973 to 1983 and then served as supervisor in the Town of Hamburg from 1984 to 1992.


Rep. Jack Quinn, right, joins Sen. Bob Dole, left, and Rep. Bill Paxon during Dole’s presidential campaign rally held Aug. 18, 1996, at the University at Buffalo. 
Photo by David F. Sherman. Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Rep. Jack Quinn, right, joins Sen. Bob Dole, left, and Rep. Bill Paxon during Dole’s presidential campaign rally held Aug. 18, 1996, at the University at Buffalo. Photo by David F. Sherman. Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com “My time at ECC has absolutely flown by,” he said. “It’s been nine years, and it feels like nine weeks. For me, this job had a number of benefits, and it got me back into education.” Quinn returned to education after serving in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1992 to 2004, representing most of Western New York. During his time in Congress, he was chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, a senior member of the Transportation Subcommittees on Aviation, Highways and Mass Transit, and chairman of the Executive Committee in the Congressional Steel Caucus.

“I served for 12 years, or six terms,” Quinn said. “The distinction we had for all of those years was that I was the Republican who was in the most Democratic-enrolled district in the United States.”

In 2010, Quinn was invited by President Barack Obama and Jill Biden, wife of the vice president, to the White House Summit on Community Colleges in Washington, D.C., while representing ECC. For Quinn, it was an event that connected his career in education to his years in government.

“It was wonderful to be back in the capital and take the skills I learned about the federal government and apply them to education,” Quinn said. “I think it was a great opportunity for Erie Community College to have its president in the room with the president, vice president and the education secretary.”

Quinn has been recognized in the last few years with the following awards: 2011 Graduate School of Education Distinguished Alumni Award from UB, one of 2015’s Most Influential Business Leaders by Buffalo Business First, honorary Doctorate of Law degrees from Medaille and Siena colleges, and Compeer’s 2011 Western New York Vision Award.

He was previously the director of the Program on Science in the Public Interest at Georgetown University, director of fundraising of the American Ireland Fund, corporate advisory board member of the So Others May Eat program, director on the board of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, and commissioner of both the Tax Relief Commission and Hurricane Sandy Task Force for the State of New York.

Quinn shared what he believes is the biggest key to maintaining his level of success.

“People need to feel you are accessible to them. They either voted for you, against you or not at all. When those people see you, they have to know that you are approachable and that you listen to what they have to say. Whether it is the macro issues or the micro issues, they have to feel like they can talk to you.”

Now that Quinn is getting ready to step away from the presidency of ECC, he talked about what life will be like in retirement for him and his wife, Mary Beth.

“Our family and friends are here in Buffalo, so we are planning on staying here,” said Quinn, adding that he wants to stay active and envisions some kind of assignment “for roughly 25 hours per week instead of 65.”

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