DYNAMIC LEADER: Eastern Florida President Dr. Jim Richey Is Space Coast Daily Person of the Year
By Kathy Reakes // December 26, 2015
'My job is fun. I just love it.'
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Dr. James Richey is a happy man. He loves his job, his family, and his life in general.
In fact, you can hear the happiness and joy in his voice as he talks about his life as President of Eastern Florida State College.
It’s not a position he thought he would find himself in when he became a lawyer and opened his own law practice years ago.
His involvement with the college began when Gov. Charlie Crist first appointed him to the Board of Trustees in July 2007. He left that position the following year to become the college’s first Internal Counsel.
From there, Richey was named Vice President of Business Affairs and General Counsel in 2008, before he assumed the Executive Vice President and General Counsel Post.
But when the opportunity came about in 2011 to take the reins as the head of the college following the retirement of Dr. Jim Drake, he jumped at the chance and the challenge.
“Most issues that I deal with have a legal aspect to them,” Dr. Richey said.
“So it wasn’t a stretch for me to take over when Dr. Drake retired. I consider him one of my mentors and learned so much working with him.”
Saying he’s a product of the public school system, including attending Michigan State University and Ohio State where he received his law degree, Richey knew exactly what he wanted to accomplish as president.
That goal was to begin expanding the college’s academic lineup to include offering four-year Bachelor Degrees in business, health care and computer information technologies.
That change, also led to the college’s name change from Brevard Community College, to Eastern Florida State College in July 2013.
Today, the college offers a host of both two-and-four-year degrees, in addition to a host of vocational certifications in such areas as electrical repairs, machinist, diagnostic medical sonographer, 911 dispatcher and more.
He has launched 27 new academic programs in some of today’s fastest-growing career fields since he became president, with more new programs expected in the coming years.
Dr. Richey did a lot of research and received a plethora of input from local businesses and leaders in not only Brevard County, but throughout Central Florida.
In this process he met with more than 3,000 business owners and leaders.
His goal was to match programs that would provide students with jobs that were in demand upon their graduation.
“Our new four-year programs are making an important difference in people’s lives, giving them the opportunity to advance their careers and giving business and industry the skilled employees they need to grow in the global economy,” he said.
Another main goal of Dr. Richey’s was to make the college, “feel more like a college” to give a more collegiate experience.
He accomplished that by expanding student activities with more than 60 student clubs and organizations on the school’s four campuses and expanded the college’s athletic program to include 11 varsity sports, the most in the Florida College system.
Career Planning Center
Another important addition to the college, or maybe the most important, was the creation of the Career Planning and Development Center where more than 45,000 students have received guidance services since it opened in 2012.
“A lot students don’t know what they want to be or become in life,” he said.
Before the career center, Richey said many students were taking classes just to take classes. Now, they can receive direction and planning to be successful in whatever career they choose.
The smiling president’s list of accomplishments since taking over the college goes on for pages and pages. But there is more to the man than just his work.
“I’m a workaholic,” he said when asked what he does for fun. “My job is fun. I just love it.”
He’s also a sports fanatic and loves just about any sport out there, but baseball holds a special place in his heart as does, of course the teams from his former colleges, Ohio State and Michigan State.
Another interesting thing about Dr. Richey is he isn’t a boring academic-type guy. He likes to listen to Bob Seger and, believe it or not, the Goo Goo Dolls, and spends plenty of time on the golf course.
But when you try to steer him away from talking about his work, he manages to return right there, with an enthusiasm that’s rare in today’s college world.
“I love working. I’m passionate about working and seeing things being accomplished and making a difference,” he said.
And that is exactly why Dr. James Richey makes the perfect 2015 Space Coast Daily Person of the Year.