BY COLIN MACDOUGALL
As the graduation ceremonies and end of the semester activities begin, Washtenaw Community College not only says goodbye to graduating students, but also to Jason Morgan, the director of government and community relations.
Morgan is leaving his position at WCC to work on his campaign for Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners. He looks to get a master’s in business administration and has already signed up for classes at Eastern Michigan University.
Morgan started his position at the college three and a half years ago. During his time at WCC, Morgan secured millions of dollars in state and federal funds for the college, though he is most proud of his work engaging students and reaching out as a college to be a resource for the for the community.
“I think that’s something the college has done before, but not in as a dynamic a way that we’ve done over the last three years,” Morgan said of working to engage students. “The work that we’ve been able to do with students to get them out in the community, meeting with legislators, traveling to Washington D.C. and Lansing, and really advocating for the college has been extremely powerful.”
Morgan was involved with the Political Science Club, and recently traveled to Lansing with students to meet with legislators like Sen. David Knezek, and Representatives Jeff Irwin and Adam Zemke.
Zemke, 55th district state representative has known Morgan since he first moved to Ann Arbor. WCC is within Zemke’s house district.
“Jason is very personable, and both really consistent and responsive,” Zemke said. “If there is ever a question I need answered he is there to help out.”
Zemke and Morgan worked together in securing funds from the state, for the college. Morgan has also introduced Zemke to members of the WCC staff to work on projects together. Zemke was invited to an event at WCC by Morgan, which was put on by Bonnie Truhn, the director of adult education. There, Zemke learned about an unnecessary financial hurdle that students who were applying for the GED preparation program would have to overcome.
“We were able to knock down this barrier,” Zemke said. “Jason has a very unique characteristic that connects people to solve problems, and he didn’t even know about this problem initially.”
Michelle Mueller, vice president of economic, community, and college development also worked closely with Morgan. Mueller notes that Morgan has really been a leader in the Workforce Intelligence Network of Southeast Michigan. Community colleges have long wanted access to the state’s workforce intelligence data. The data is used by the college as a performance method. It lets them know about whether past students are working or have increased wages. It helps the college show that it has performance in specific areas when they apply for federal grants. Unlike most states, Michigan didn’t make it easy for it’s educational institutions to access this information.
“Jason was able to make great headway,” Mueller said. “He has great relationship-building skills and is such a delight to work with. He is wonderful at articulating to us what is going on in Lansing.”