How Roy Church transformed LCCC for generations to come

Roy and Bobbi Church Visionary Leadership Institute honors vision of LCCC president

The Lorain County Community College Foundation has established a leadership institute to honor retired LCCC President Roy Church, Ed.D., who led the college for nearly 30 years. The Roy and Bobbi Church Visionary Leadership Institute has raised $3 million as an endowment in Church’s name.

The institute is intended to sustain Church’s leadership and innovative spirit within the college and community by attracting renowned leaders for keynote addresses.

For example, the institute’s first speaker was Michael Porter, Ph.D., a Harvard Business School professor widely recognized around the world for his expertise on competitive strategy; the competitiveness and economic development of nations, states and regions; and the application of competitive principles and strategic approaches to social needs.

Porter was the keynote speaker at the Legacy of Leadership Gala in April on the LCCC campus, which honored Church for his nearly 30 years of service at LCCC and kicked off the Institute’s speaker series. Nearly 700 people attended the event.

Speakers will deliver valuable insights to students, faculty, staff, employers and the greater community that will inspire and strengthen a culture of innovation.

The institute will surround the speaker series with programs and workshops, providing a strategic, deliberate process for leadership development, strategic thinking and innovation.

How to reach: The Roy and Bobbi Church Visionary Leadership Institute,

The Church File

NAME: Roy A. Church, Ed.D.
TITLE: President Emeritus (“It’s a way to keep me connected.”)
ORGANIZATION: Lorain County Community College

Born: Near Syracuse, New York

Education: Undergraduate degree from the State University of New York at Cortland; master’s degree from Florida Atlantic University; doctoral degree from Florida Atlantic University

What was your first job and what did you learn from it? We had a 260-acre dairy farm, so my first job was milking Holstein cows. One of the things that you learn on a dairy farm is how to improvise. You can’t just go to the hardware store down the street for a replacement part. You learn how to innovate just to survive on a dairy farm. You’re also working with live animals, so you learn the biosciences inside out and psychology as well.

What is the best business advice you ever received? Be a good listener. The Lord gave us two ears and one mouth, and the intention might be to use them in that proportion. You learn by listening, by understanding from others and by being open.

Who do you admire in business? One of the people that I have long admired is economist Michael Porter, a professor at the Harvard Business School. I was absolutely delighted to be able to meet him earlier this year and spend some time with him. There also are a lot of individuals who are very motivating and very powerful.

And some of them are not the heads of Fortune 500 companies. As I’ve interacted with folks across Northeast Ohio, what I’ve observed is that you can find good leadership in every sector; you just have to look for it and then try to learn from it. Each sector has a different set of challenges, constraints and problems, but you can find good examples of leadership in them.

What is your definition of business success? You can’t define success unless you can define where you’re going — what you’re trying to accomplish. So you have to try to help groups define where they’re going. Now, the group can be an institution; it can be a company or a unit within an organization.

But once you establish the goals, then you can measure success against those goals. And part of the challenge is to identify goals that are large enough to make a difference. You have to do the small things, have the organization run efficiently and effectively and you have to be able to use your resources wisely. But you have to be strategic enough to do big things that make big differences.