Dr. Wright Lassiter says it’s time to move on
By Grant V. Ziegler
After 27 years of service to the Dallas County Community College District, Dr. Wright L. Lassiter Jr. will step down as chancellor by the end of the year. He feels comfortable that the DCCCD will be in capable hands after his departure.
“As a leader you work very hard to have ‘things in place,’ so that you can pass the baton or mantle to another leader,” said Lassiter. “I have been privileged to appoint four outstanding college presidents and added other senior staff members. So I have a strong team that stands ready to support my successor when that time comes.”
As chancellor of the DCCCD, Lassiter helped complete a $450 million capital improvement bond program. Not only was it completed, but it was finished in time and under budget. He feels it is one of his greatest accomplishments.
Even when faced with severe budget cuts and double-digit enrollment increases, Lassiter was able to lay out plans not just to keep the DCCCD stable, but to make it more successful as well.
“Dr. Lassiter is very much about professional development and continuous learning,” said North Lake College Interim President Christa Slejko. “He was asked to assume the chancellorship at a time when the DCCCD was coming out of some chaos surrounding the previous chancellor’s departure. Everyone needed someone with balance and calmness and Dr. Lassiter was perfect for that.
“He was great for this role because of his tenure with the District and his relationships with students and faculty,” Slejko said.
Lassiter was appointed Chancellor in May 2006 after serving as El Centro College’s president for 20 years. Before taking over the largest undergraduate institution in Texas, the DCCCD, this former military officer could fill multiple résumés with all of his accomplishments alone.
He has earned degrees from Alcorn State University, Indiana University, Auburn University and Anderson Theological Seminary, and was awarded the honorary Doctor of Humanities degree by Dallas Baptist University where he serves as a trustee. He is also an ordained Baptist minister and serves as the teaching pastor at Concord Baptist Church.
He has a distinguished record of public service stemming all the way back to his time in Tuskegee, Ala., where he was the first African-American chairman of the board of commissioners of the Tuskegee Housing Authority. He implemented the Civil Rights Act of 1965 there, and established the first home ownership program in a public housing development.
“He was very easy to work with, as he was attentive to faculty needs,” said government professor and president of the NLC Faculty Association, John Hitt. “His successor will have some mighty big shoes to fill because Dr. Lassiter has been a stalwart for our District.”
Despite his exit from the DCCCD, Lassiter says his retirement will certainly not be “time off.”
“Since 1987 I have been a member of the graduate faculty at Dallas Baptist University teaching one course per semester, so I will continue teaching there,” he said. “I have written 10 books. When I retire I will have more time to write. In short, when I retire I’ll be able to manage my schedule and areas of involvement, absent from obligatory and expected service.”
Lassiter will serve out his the final year of his contract, which expires Dec. 31, 2013, but says he will extend his tenure briefly until a successor is elected and ready to take over.