From Dr. Gerald Stanglin’s first official day on Feb. 1, 1997, he knew something about KC felt like home. Now, after 17 years as vice president of instruction, Stanglin has decided to retire at the end of this semester.
“It just felt like the right thing… almost from the very beginning. All the people were very friendly, and I just felt at home,” Stanglin said. “It was a very pleasant experience.”
Born and raised in Dallas, Stanglin found his way to Kilgore after serving 15 years as the dean of Cedar Valley College, a community college in Dallas County.
Stanglin and Alice, his wife of 46 years, knew they wanted to live in a small town, but did not think it would be until after he retired. When Stanglin was passed over for a vice president position at Cedar Valley, he decided to make the move a little sooner.
“I was looking for something more. In Dallas, it is very hard to get a promotion,” Stanglin said. “I interviewed at a couple places that just didn’t work out. When I saw this job at KC, I applied and got the interview.”
Stanglin left the big city for many reasons, but the biggest was the wilting sense of community.
“It got to where we weren’t doing anything in our community. We went grocery shopping, but outside of that, we just didn’t go anywhere,” Stanglin said. “We even stopped going to church.”
The idea of living in a small town and knowing many people was one aspect of Kilgore that really appealed to him.
“That’s really what you’ve got here. Anytime you go anywhere you are likely to run into somebody you know… Particularly when you look scruffy,” Stanglin said. “Some people don’t like that, but I love it. I feel like I am part of my community.”
Additionally, Stanglin said his personal relationships with the faculty and staff played a major part in what kept him at KC for 17 years.
“I will always remember the personal relationships among me and the people who report to me, along with Dr. Holda and the people on the executive counsel,” Stanglin said. “I could have applied for a better paying job, but then I would lose everything my wife and I love about Kilgore.”
Stanglin also said he felt very fortunate to work with the people he has and would put them up against any other college’s faculty and staff.
“It’s not just me. It’s not the bricks and mortar, the logo or anything else that KC stands for. It’s the people, and I have a deep affection for all of them,” Stanglin said. “I sort of feel like a conductor of an orchestra. I get everyone working together, but it’s the individual parts that really make things happen.”
Before retiring, Stanglin has no big plans, but does want to get things in order for the person hired to his position.
“I want to make the transition as smooth as possible for whoever comes in. I’m going to work to get things done up to and including my last day here,” Stanglin said.
Though he feels his time at KC has been well spent, Stanglin believes “all good things come to an end.” He added that it is a good time for him to retire personally and professionally because he is turning 67 in April.
One of the items on Stanglin’s to-do list after retirement is to travel as much as he can with his wife.
“There are so many places we’d like to go, and I’m sure we won’t get we won’t get to go to all of them, but now is the time,” Stanglin said.
Stanglin, plans to become more involved in his church, the Chandler St. Church of Christ in Kilgore, where he is one of six elders.
Stanglin added he would also like to teach a government class at KC as well as become involved with a reasonable university and teach a graduate course, higher education or academic administration.
Stanglin hopes to leave a legacy as someone who cared for students and their success.
“I would like to be remembered as a person who built programs and who pulled people together and orchestrated things to happen that were bigger than any one of us.”
The amount of time Stanglin has spent at KC has made an undeniable impact according to Dr. Bill Holda, KC President.
“Dr. Stanglin has impacted the instructional climate at Kilgore College in a tremendous manner. He has left a legacy as the best and one of the longest instructional leaders in the college’s history…” Holda said. “We will miss him and we wish him a prosperous, healthy and rewarding retirement, which he has certainly earned.”
Stanglin came from a community college that was relatively unknown in a metropolitan area. KC, by comparison, is well-known throughout the state for a number of reasons.
“People know we have quality programs… taught at the college level that people expect,” Stanglin said. “The college has a huge impact on… the whole East Texas region in terms of economic development and training a workforce that goes out and gets jobs that pay well… the whole quality aspect is just really something I sit back and take a lot of pride in.”
Stanglin is proud to have spent the last 17 years working for KC and becoming part of its history.
“I do want to say our president has been as good a supervisor as any person could ask for. I do report to him, but I have felt more like that we were colleagues… I have had an opportunity to help shape this environment,” Stanglin said. “I feel very fortunate to have worked with a president that is of the quality that he is. I honestly don’t think if I lived several other lifetimes I could come out any better than I have. So I really feel blessed.”