Henry Ford College president leaving for Virginia community college system

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Dearborn — The head of Henry Ford College is leaving the school for a job with a community college in Virginia.

Henry Ford College President Russell Kavalhuna said Wednesday he is leaving the school in Dearborn at the end of June to become chancellor of Virginia’s Community College System, which has 23 colleges on 40 campuses across the state of Virginia.


"I have deeply valued my time as the president of Henry Ford College," he said in a statement. "This community and our students mean a lot to me, personally and professionally.

"It was a hard decision for me to leave the college," he added. "In the end, I could not turn down this opportunity to continue expanding the mission of access to life-changing education."

According to his biography on the college's website, Kavalhuna is the school's sixth president and joined the college in 2018. Prior to Henry Ford College, he was the executive director of flight operations at Western Michigan University's College of Aviation. Before that, he was a federal prosecutor and a commercial airline captain. 

Kavalhuna said he will work with the school's Board of Trustees and staff to ensure a smooth transition.

College officials said the board has not yet decided on its next steps but will make information about the transition public as soon as it is available. 

Henry Ford College has about 12,000 enrolled students.

Meanwhile, Virginia's State Board for Community Colleges announced its hiring of Kavalhuna on Thursday. It said he was selected from among nearly 50 candidates and succeeds Dr. Glenn DuBois, the longest-serving chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges, who announced last year that he is retiring at the end of June.

"Russ Kavalhuna is a transformational higher educational leader who is uniquely prepared to move forward our community college system and elevate it to be the best in the nation," NL Bishop, the board's chair, said in a statement. "Russ is an outside-the-box thinker, and an innovator whose career has focused on workforce development and finding creative ways to connect adult learners with high-demand career opportunities. We are excited to bring this rock star to Virginia."