ECC Student Mentor Retires After 28 Years
When Michael Jordan, former vice president of student services at Edgecombe Community College, retired at the end of December, he ended a career that spanned 28 years with the college.
Jordan, 62, says all he ever wanted to do was “help people.” Mission accomplished.
From his first role at ECC as a psychology instructor to his final position at the helm of the Office of Student Services, he taught, mentored, coaxed, reprimanded, and in countless other ways guided thousands of students through their programs of study.
The college hosted a retirement celebration in honor of Jordan in late December. Among the many colleagues, family, and friends who attended was ECC Trustee Kenny Parker, who worked with Jordan for a number of years as a mentor with EMPAC, a mentoring program for male students at the college.
“Mr. Jordan served ECC by serving its students,” Parker said at the retirement celebration. “His guidance was priceless, and it would be impossible to know the full measure of the life-changing decisions that many students made because of his unselfishness and giving of advice, both academic and personal.”
Dr. Deborah Lamm, president of the college from 2004 until her retirement in 2018, also weighed in on Jordan’s contributions. “His ability to get the best from students was unmatched. Whether he was praising or admonishing a student, the student knew that Michael had his or her interests at heart. He cared deeply for our students.”
Jordan’s impact on the ECC community has been so profound that colleagues, both current and former, recently established a scholarship in his honor, naming it after his beloved late mother: the Mary Sampson Jordan Koonce Memorial Endowed Scholarship.
His grandfather was a mechanic, and his father was career military, but Jordan envisioned a different course for his life. “I wanted a job where I would wear a tie to work every day.”
He chose higher education as his path, and he was the first in his family of three children to attend college. Jordan holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology from East Carolina University.
He joined Edgecombe Community College in 1993 as a psychology instructor and chair of the College Transfer and Social Services (now Human Services) programs. “I fell in love with teaching,” Jordan explains. “I was in the right place at the right time, surrounded by the best teachers who taught me how to teach, like Bob Cole and Eleanor Battle-Sharpe.
“I was 33 years old, and for the first time, I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be, working with students and encouraging them.”
From his initial role in instruction, Jordan moved up the ranks of administration, first as director of the Rocky Mount campus, followed by dean of continuing education, then dean of students, associate vice president of student services, and finally, vice president of student services, a position he held for 15 years.
ECC President Dr. Greg McLeod relied on Jordan’s experience when he joined the college in 2018. “Michael was an invaluable asset to me when I became president,” he says. “Every college has its own unique identity, and he provided valuable insight into the culture and operations at ECC. He also had a singular ability to get to the heart of every issue that involved students. He is a master mediator.”
At 6’4” and 285 pounds, Jordan is an imposing figure, a circumstance that he used to his advantage on the job.
“Presence makes all the difference in a situation,” he explains. “It can either be a calming influence or it can make matters worse. I used my presence to calm students. I got their attention because of my size, but I stayed calm, spoke softly, never yelled, and listened to their story. Listening goes a long way.”
“When I think of the word ‘authentic,’ Mr. Jordan comes to mind,” notes Samanthia Phillips, former dean of students who was tapped in December to replace Jordan as vice president of student services. She began her new role on January 1.
“Out of all of the things he’s been to me – supervisor, role model, and confidant – mentor describes him best. I’ve worked day to day with him for the past 12 years, and every day I’ve gained knowledge and wisdom from our interactions. I’ve witnessed firsthand his compassion and advocacy for our students and the respect he’s earned from his peers. Most importantly, I’ve felt the compassion and concern he genuinely has for others,” Phillips says.
Among many awards and accolades, in 2014 Jordan was selected to receive an International Distinguished College Administrator Award from Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society for students attending two-year schools. He was one of only 25 college administrators from across the globe selected for the international distinction that year.
“Throughout his tenure at ECC, Mr. Jordan was a steadfast supporter of Phi Theta Kappa members and other students,” says Tamara Frank-Pourvady, advisor to Phi Theta Kappa and coordinator of the Tutoring Center at the college.
“He was key to the success of our textbook recycling drives. He regularly attended and presented at our induction ceremonies, and he even assisted when our chapter hosted regional events. Since 1994, when our college’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter was created, Mr. Jordan was our greatest champion,” she adds.
Jordan says, “When I was in college at East Carolina University, I had family support, football, and school. Our students at Edgecombe Community College have family responsibilities, child care obligations, financial challenges, transportation issues, and more. For them to be able to juggle and cope with all of these things and still succeed in academics is extraordinary. I was constantly in awe of our students.
“The college has experienced floods, earthquakes, growth, decline, joys, and sometimes loss. I tried to make things better, and I hope I’ve made a difference.”