Don Davis, Mid-Plains Community College Extended Campus Coordinator in Broken Bow, has announced his retirement effective July 1.
“My time at MPCC has been extremely rewarding, but I am ready to move on to other things,” Davis said.
This is actually the second retirement for the self-proclaimed “farm boy from the Sandhills of Nebraska.” His first retirement came after teaching and counseling students for more than three decades.
“After I graduated from high school in Hay Springs, I went on to earn my bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Kearney State, which later became the University of Nebraska at Kearney,” he said. “My degrees were in Education and Educational Psychology, with majors in English and Theater/Speech.”
After teaching in Cambridge for three years, he and his wife, Rosemary, moved to Broken Bow, where he taught and served as a counselor for 29 years. During this time, Davis also became an adjunct instructor for MPCC.
Following his retirement from teaching, Davis was hired part-time as MPCC’s first Extended Campus Coordinator in October of 2000. The Ogallala Extended Campus was opened a short time later.
“For the first eight months or so I worked out of the school and from my home,” he said. “Then, in the summer of 2001, the city built an office in the back of the public library. There was no classroom, just office space.”
Davis said that before the Coordinator position in Broken Bow was created, MPCC offered three or four classes there each semester. Immediately after he came onboard, that number began increasing dramatically - eventually growing to more than 40 per semester. The trick, he said, was finding a place for the classes to meet.
“We held classes wherever we could find to hold them,” he said. “We’d have classes in the school, the library, the county museum, and even in parish halls of churches. The community was always very generous in accommodating us.”
Davis said the need for a larger higher education facility at Broken Bow became apparent several years ago when the Extended Campus literally found itself bursting at the seams. The number of classes had grown to more than 40 per semester, with more than 200 people taking a course of some kind every semester.
In July of 2009, Davis and other representatives took their concerns to the MPCC Board of Governors. The board agreed that there was definitely a need for larger facilities and began considering options for expansion.
In June 2010, the Custer Economic Development Corporation announced that Custer Campus Inc. and MPCC had reached an agreement to join forces in building the college’s new extended campus there. What was once envisioned as a single building housing the Broken Bow Extended Campus ultimately developed into a plan to build a seven-acre campus that would be home to MPCC’s extended campus and other facilities for public service entities.
“When the community and the college got together and built the new facility in Broken Bow it was a great source of pride for me because I was part of making that happen,” he said.
As Davis reflected on his time teaching and his years at the college, he said that despite the challenges his career has been extremely rewarding. He also appreciates the people that he has worked with throughout his career and gave special thanks to Bruce Dowse, MPCC Area Dean of Outreach and Training.
“I never felt like I worked for Bruce, I just worked with Bruce,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed working with him.”
One thing Davis is confident of is that he’s leaving the Broken Bow Extended Campus in good hands with new Coordinator, Kaci Johnson.
“Kaci is going to make me look like chopped liver,” he said. “She’s going to take what we have built here to the next level. There’s no question about it.”
Although he has enjoyed his life in Custer County, Davis said he and Rosemary plan to move to Ohio in the near future to be closer to his children and grandchildren. He hopes to spend more time enjoying his hobby of woodworking and may eventually seek work as a teacher or advisor at a community college in the area.
“Maybe there is a third retirement in my future,” he said with a laugh. “I guess we’ll just see what happens.”