Iowa Western Community College Dan Kinney poses for a portrait on campus outside Kinney Hall on Jan. 9. Kinney plans to retire on Aug. 31, the college announced last week.

Dr. Dan Kinney will step down as president of Iowa Western Community College this fall after more than 25 years in the leadership role.

When the announcement of Kinney’s decision to retire was made public last week, Iowa Western Board of Trustees President Brent Siegrist commented, “(Kinney) has done so much to advance the college during his 25-plus years at Iowa Western. They will be big shoes to fill.”

Indeed they will.

Kinney’s influence has been felt across the college’s multiple campuses and in the several communities it serves. Two dozen facilities have been built or purchased, enrollment has increased and new academic programs and athletic teams have been created.

Under Kinney’s guidance, the college has invested more than $178 million in new construction and renovation projects at the main campus in Council Bluffs and at centers in Clarinda, Shenandoah, Harlan and Atlantic. He also generated regional attention for the college with his efforts in the planning and construction of the new Robotics and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) Center, which the board named Kinney Hall in 2015, and the Center for Advanced Nursing and Allied Health Education.

Kinney helped raise awareness and funds for the college, pushing the Iowa Western Foundation’s assets from $347,000 in 1994 to $33.7 million today.

“One of the things I’m most proud about is the foundation and the growth in the foundation’s assets we’ve been able to accomplish, because that is critical in keeping education affordable for students,” he said.

Kinney came to Iowa Western in 1994, after leading Coffeyville Community College in Coffeyville, Kansas, for nine years. He replaced Carl Heinrich, the college’s second president, who retired.

Like the school, the athletic department has grown tremendously under Kinney’s leadership.

“Those programs come about because of the interests of high school students and the things they want us to provide,” he said.

In fall 2004, Iowa Western added men’s and women’s soccer team and added men’s and women’s golf in the spring of 2005. The college kicked off its football program in 2009. Shooting sports and bowling for men and women were added during the 2018-19 school year.

The sports programs have not only brought activities for Iowa Western students but also state and national recognition for the college.

Iowa Western has long had relationships with local schools, collaborating with the Council Bluffs Community School District on its Early College Academy and Certificate Advancement Program, Lewis Central Community School District on its pilot trades program and multiple school systems on Pottawattamie Promise and early/dual credit programs, which has helped fuel growth in the number of high school students enrolled at the college.

Council Bluffs Community School District Superintendent Vickie Murillo called Kinney “a true partner” to the city’s school districts.

Kinney served in the National Guard and Reserves for 31 years, retiring from the Kansas Army National Guard as a colonel in 2000.

Underscoring his ties to the military, he led the fundraising campaign that raised more than $850,000 for construction of the Veterans Plaza Memorial in Bayliss Park in Council Bluffs, which was dedicated on July 4, 2003.

As Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh noted, Kinney, who sits on a number of local boards now and has done so throughout his time here will hopefully continue to play a leadership role in the community after his retirement.

Kinney said he had no idea he would be at Iowa Western for more than 25 years.

“When I interviewed here, the board asked me how long I would stay, and I said ‘Until I get bored’ — and I haven’t been bored,” he said.

Council Bluffs and southwest Iowa are indeed fortunate that he didn’t.

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