Spotlight on Chancellor Justin H. Lonon (Video)

In episode two of our Spotlight series, we sat down with Chancellor Lonon to discuss everything from his strategic vision for Dallas College to his longtime passion for cars!​

Justin: Morning.

Good morning.

Malcolm: How's it going, sir?

Justin: Good. How are you, sir?

Malcolm: You ready for this?

Justin: Yeah, let's do it.

Malcolm: All right. We'll have you over here.

Justin: All right.

Malcolm: Well, you're about a month in. So, we'll start there. How's it going? How are things?

Justin: Yeah, you know, several weeks in the big chair now and certainly I've got it all figured out. No. So far, so good. Certainly, you know, I feel the weight of the responsibility in a very different way than I did even in my previous role. And everyone's been so welcoming and supportive, and so I'm just really excited about the opportunity that’s ahead.

I am who I am, and I'm nothing if not authentic. I'm a husband. I'm a father. When I find free time on the weekends, tinkering with an old car I have, and I'll do some amateur car racing.

I'm a pretty laidback kind of guy. Pretty approachable. I walk the halls, and as I'm on campus, I want employees to feel empowered to wave their hand and go, "Hey, here's an issue. Let's take care of it."

When I first interviewed in 2005, I didn't know that I was coming here for a career. I just knew that I liked the work that we did here at Dallas College, and so I care deeply about this place. I care deeply about the people that are giving their time and talents to do this work.

You know, I talk a lot about we're in the barrier busting business. There's a lot of good that needs to be done, and a lot of need in the community. I'm going to be focused more on childcare and access to childcare. Access to healthcare and to mental health - certainly coming out of a pandemic.

Malcolm: What are some of the challenges that you're hoping to tackle pretty quickly?

Justin: Yeah, sure. Well, certainly through the consolidation into Dallas College, there are pain points, transition points that we still have to work through. That's part of why I launched the Action 2022 Plan, to really be able to identify some of those things. And that we're not institutionalizing those. Those don't become the norm.

We have so many great people that are focused on serving our students and ensuring that we're providing what the community needs, business and industry needs. We've got an amazing Foundation that we've built as we have expanded some things. Certainly that impact our students and parents in the community. Things like the Dallas County Promise. We're going to continue to expand the Promise, expand our Early College High School P-TECH offerings throughout Dallas County. We're working on a baccalaureate program around nursing, and so that we'll be further along in that. And then also, in the online space, that we have developed complete online programs.

And then the bond implementation. The support that voters gave us in 2019 for the $1.1 billion bond project. You know, recently we had the opportunity to do some groundbreakings at some of the campuses.

But I'm going to be spending a lot of my time focusing on building the Dallas College culture because it's a multi-year challenge. I want this to be identified as one of the best places to work for. Dallas College is the place to make a difference in the community. That's what's kept me here all these years. There is no other institution that I'm aware of that can have the impact on individual lives, and serving business and industry, and ultimately our community. We are the bridge between those that are looking to get into the educational pipeline to better their lives, and business and industry that are trying to get people to work.

I've just been blown away by the amazing work that goes on by our faculty and staff here. The student stories are amazing. There's students that I have interacted with from years ago that I still keep in contact with.

At the end of the day, it's about the mission. It's about making an impact. And I don't know where else that an institution can make such an impact in individual lives, and then the community, the way Dallas College can. And that's what has kept me here. That's what I've been passionate about, and that's what I'm excited about as we look ahead.

Malcolm: Got it, sir.

Justin: All right, good deal. Appreciate it, gang.

Malcolm: Thank you.

Justin: Yeah. Thanks, sir.

Malcolm: Take care.

Justin: Yep. Have a good one.