NORMAL — Allen Goben said Thursday that if he hadn’t found his absolute dream job, he wouldn’t be leaving his position as president at Heartland Community College.

Goben, 45, who has headed Heartland since 2010 through what have been times of economic difficulty and community outreach, announced Thursday he’s leaving to become Missouri statewide chancellor for Utah-based Western Governors University.

Following a Heartland board of trustees meeting Friday morning, a public announcement is expected to include information about plans for an interim president and the search for a permanent replacement.

The Iowa native said he has received several offers from colleges and universities but didn’t apply because he liked his job and the people at Heartland so much. “It had to be the perfect fit for us to leave,” he said.

Then he got the offer to head a brand new branch of WGU.

“WGU is at the leading edge of education. Their mission is so tightly aligned with my own,” he said.

Goben, currently on vacation, plans to be back Aug. 12, his final day at Heartland, to say goodbye and to thank the staff. He informed the board of trustees privately of his plans Tuesday and intended to make a public announcement Friday, but word began to leak out Thursday, he said.

“President Goben has helped Heartland Community College achieve national recognition and furthered its commitment to student learning and success,” Board Chairman Gregg Chadwick said in a statement Thursday. “We wish him the best of luck as he pursues this new and exciting opportunity.”

Goben, his wife, Kelly, and three daughters, ages 8 to 15, will move to the St. Louis area this summer. He will start his new position in mid-July.

WGU, which has about 40,000 students enrolled nationwide, opened the Missouri-based online school in February. While it has about 450 students, Goben said his goal is to increase that “to 2,000 in two years and 5,000 in five years.”

Among the achievements Goben takes pride in at Heartland is broadening connections with the community and businesses, including bringing in $4.8 million in grants and significant donations to the college’s foundation.

Charlie Moore, president and CEO of the McLean County Chamber of Commerce, said he was personally saddened that Goben is leaving because he has been as asset to the community.

“We appreciated what he was able to do here. Allen has been a tremendous resource to the community … (with) outstanding initiatives he put in place, a great leadership team that he has assembled, and a fantastic continuation of what the college has started to better serve the greater McLean (County) and Central Illinois population,” Moore said.

Goben succeeded Jon Astroth, who was president of Heartland since its founding in 1990.

Heartland’s second president said he was especially pleased to be part launching Guided Path to Success in 2011 to reach college-bound students and help them move through college more confidently.

“When in a role like president, it’s really about the team,” he said.

Post-recession financial challenges characterized his term. Like other community colleges across Illinois, Heartland has seen declines in state aid, property tax values and enrollment.

A cost-cutting plan to restructure staffing and eliminate positions ran into controversy this spring when eliminating the position of full-time athletic director had to be canceled in the face of public pressure.

The skyline of the Normal campus continued to evolve under Goben. An $18 million, 18,000-square-foot facility Heartland will share with the Illinois Army National Guard is under construction, and a $5.2 million wind turbine supplying half the campus’s electricity needs went online in September.

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(22) comments

wswsr
wswsr

maybe with this exit the school can save a little on wage/pension expense and hold off on throwing more burden on the property tax payers and student tuition

Northside 66
Northside 66

Hopefully all of you get to read the email he wrote to the HCC employees. I just read it. It is being passed around now. What a crock! He's leaving so he wouldn't get fired. I hope he takes all of his cohorts and new hires with him. Maybe now HCC will be able to fulfill its role as a community college without all of the bloated expenses this guy has added to the college and the community! Good bye and don't bother to send us a Christmas card!

parrot
parrot

I have never met and know nothing about this person. But his words, quoted above, "a significant professional advancement and an outstanding personal fit" say it all. It's all about money. It's all about money too for the taxpayers of McLean County. Isn't it time to get back to what a community college should be all about?

ct
ct

It sounds like the board chose him for his 'dynamic' but the school wasn't ready for it, nor really needed that type of leadership in most cases.

Just like with the second tier athletics and other side shows, HCC has long been concerned with looking like a big boy, and not the new little school, and they chose a president they thought would propel that image and he did work towards that regard, but the school faces deep challenges in basic academics and finances for which he probably cared little.

This isn't an isolated fault, it is common in the public arena (and private too) for employees to pursue avenues which enrich their future but not so much the entity they work for.

Is class still affordable at HCC and are the basic courses not already full, probably not, but hey, there is a new armory being built on campus and a sports team made its way into a little league tournament!

Comment deleted.
Maggiemoo
Maggiemoo

Oh, and didn't the Pantagraph check that the land purchase, turbine, national guard facility were all done and practically dusted before Goben came. At least Goben's imagination didn't credit him for building the campus...while conveniently forgetting about the financial mess he created with mass hirings, falling enrollment, false promises to the community about useless "certifications". Read this guy's website,it's a great study....Good riddance Dr. Goben.

With all the comments posted here about "bashing" this guy .... I wonder how many of you PERSONALLY know him? I also wonder how many of these people posting comments consider themselves CHRISTIAN? If you are a Christian, you wouldn't be criticizing or "bad-mouthing" as much as you are. I realize I don't know know this Goshen guy, but I am going to say anything negative about someone (and something) I know very little (if any) about. You all need to think twice before posting comments that are negative. One of these days, the finger is going to be pointed at you. At that point, the song you're singing is going to be different.

The other dave
The other dave

Some people brighten a room by entering. Some by leaving. I think I know which one Goben is. Either way, lets celebrate the good news.

Maggiemoo
Maggiemoo

Yep, I would guess some on the forum had the misfortune to know this guy pretty well. Truth has to come out. Throughout history there are instances where the truth was supressed and people did not not speak out and do the right thing until it was too late . The truth can hurt but has to be said when someone has a direct impact on so many lives. Hopefully, the comments will encourage Dr. Goben to really look at himself and realize that he needs to make some changes . I doubt he can, but for the sake of WGU, I hope so.

Northside 66
Northside 66

Well, Tucker, some of us have had the pleasure of working with Dr. Goben, and it was NOT a pleasure. The vindictive, lying, back-stabbing way he directed the events at HCC was horrible. He made it his personal mission to instill a culture of fear so that any employee, from Senior Administrator to Faculty, would be removed if that person challenged him. Dictator is a better label than president. It is not "bashing" when you tell the truth, it is tell the TRUTH. Peace be with you, brother/sister Tucker.

The other dave
The other dave

I wonder if he will start an athletic department at this internet university so that he can waste millions of dollars and give away tuition.

abouttime
abouttime

First and foremost, Goben appears to have a friend at the Pantagraph. The 'Photos: Goben administration significant' article was published to the pantagraph within minutes after he sent out an "internal" e-mail to HCC staff. I am also puzzled as to why the article written here is not titled Opinion or Editorial, since it appears to have been written by Goben himself.

What's more troubling is that less than 30 minutes ago there were 12 comments on this post, several of which have been removed. Maggiemoo and Northside each had insightful and accurate views of Goben, but he must have seen these and called his buddy at the Pantagraph to have them removed. Nothing in them was abusive, inaccurate, slander or libel... just facts that hurt Goben's ego. I know, I know, is that even possible?

For those who wonder he is being "bashed" in the comments, you probably do not work for the institution which he has been destroying for the past three years. $40,000 "professional development" trips to visit his pals in Texas so he can look like a big shot, completely unnecessary changes in leadership positions, and the final straw being the attempted firing of Athletic Director Nate Metzger. How is Heartland's baseball program doing these days, any current or former players make it to the MLB? Spoiler alert, several.

I hope the community shows up to the board meeting scheduled for tonight to help emphasize the point that he was not well-liked or well-respected, and we are relieved to finally see him leave.

WhatBox
WhatBox

I can appreciate the need to update a story; however, this update completely removed a quote that Parrot referred to ("a significant professional advancement and an outstanding personal fit"), above. I felt the quote was well selected -- a perfect representation of the character he has demonstrated in his time at Heartland Community College. That Goben is now "on vacation" and won't return until his last day of work (in mid August), speaks volumes. Any thoughts on what it's saying?

WhatBox
WhatBox

Goben did get it right in his quote, above, "“When in a role like president, it’s really about the team,” he said." Unfortunately, the perception is that it never was about the team; rather, it was about the individual himself. Perhaps he would have benefited from stronger familiarity with the expression "Walk the talk": The "talk" was great; the "walk" stumbled significantly.

Just-the-facts
Just-the-facts

Goben is a person who lack ethics and integrity! HCC is lucky and so is the Board for not having to follow through and fire him which would bring even further disgrace to the college. Note, to refer to him as "Dr" or even "Mr" would be showing him respect and he deserves none!

Maggiemoo
Maggiemoo

Why is the misinformation in this article still online? Goben is not coming back on August 12, he is gone. HCC now has a new and widely respected and admired President, Rob Widmer. Congratulations to Mr. Widmer and HCC.

To quote the "misinformation" above: The pantagraph article states (quoted): "Goben, currently on vacation, plans to be back Aug. 12, his final day at Heartland, to say goodbye and to thank the staff." ~~ Within that quote, it states that Goben will be back on Aug. 12 to say goodbye. ....... HOW IS THIS MISINFORMATION? Considering it's not August 12th yet, so how do you know that this is misinformation and that Goben isn't coming back? I guess you have all the luck considering you are a fortune teller and predicting the future. That's a quality that I obviously lack.

Maggiemoo
Maggiemoo

Yes, it's wonderful to be a fortune teller. Life is good.

JeffHCC
JeffHCC

Goodbye Allen Goben. He should do very well in a on-line academic setting, where he does not need to personally interact with academic professionals. His tenure here at Heartland has been catastrophic from the first week. The now ex-president spent more time telling us about his great victories in Kentucky, Texas, and Iowa. With no regard to the costs, he required faculty to take a 'road trip' to his former employers under the guise of a leadership development program - a complete waste of our time and the taxpayers money. Spending thousands of dollars to have a Larry Gatlin come to campus on the Labor Day weekend when there was NO ONE around, is a good example of his wasteful spending. Designating his own personal parking space as close to the front entrance is another. Wasting THOUSANDS of dollars and man-hours to implement SHAREPOINT is another - SharePoint has been around for a decade, and Dr. Goben required the entire campus to adopt it - no legitimate reason, simply because he thought it would be good. Dr. Goben has required dozens of faculty and staff to attend his 'Leadership Institute' during which he simply tells everyone how smart he is. He wanted to implement HIS version of a learning styles assessment for all students - something he took from a variety of sources, and something that simply isn't logical or necessary. Thank goodness the College can now return to Normal under the patience and guidance of our financial VP - Rob will be a great interim president. Dr. Goben meets the clinical definition of a narcissistic personality disorder. His work with a college that is completely on-line will suit him well - he has extreme difficulty working directly with faculty and administration, unless they are willing to say nothing, and will not discuss ANY of his decisions. He reduced the VP staff of this college from five down to three - easier to control only three. He decimated the five academic divisions, by reducing them down to three - easier to control only three.
We have lost a LOT of good people in the last few years - most of whom simply walked away from the chaos and found new academic opportunities. THANK YOU to the HCC Board for accepting his resignation - in a few years, we will once again become a shining example of an outstanding academic institution.

Maggiemoo
Maggiemoo

JeffHCC, well said! Perhaps the community will now understand why posts have been so critical of Goben's presidency. Those who lived through it know what they are talking about .

opinions galore
opinions galore

totally on-target JeffHCC, maggiemoo, northsider, justthefacts & abouttime

most of the comments on here are from people who know all too well the destruction he caused over the last 3 years. his past college was named one of the best places to work in the state - their experience was drastically different. the environment became toxic quickly. so much waste, no tolerence for disagreement and a far far cry from valuing people.

pre-Goben the college had low turnover. people worked hard but they were happy. so many great people left or are tying to leave. experience made you a target and was a liability. success pre-goben was erased. it really says something when all the VPs plan to retire as quickly as they can.

it is appauling that so many new positions created were layers of administration. these were the individuals who sat on committees, deciding things for the college without much actual responsbility. it was all about spin and being a "yes" man.

to those who exposed the problems, thank you SO much for your efforts. it was so badly needed and is greatly appreciated. they are the ones who value people.

i was in many offices on friday after the announcement that widmer would serve as president. without talking about it, there was a very happy vibe wherever i went. rob deserves the praise and support he is receiving.

so MANY MANY thanks to the board for making the decisions they have. the last three years cannot be undone but at least the bleeding can stop.

i hope one of the first acts will be to remove the new mission statement from the walls of the CCB building. it would help greatly in the healing. the mission, etc was a source of contention and was Goben trying to squeeze as many as words as he can to sound great rather than having substance.

belair
belair

Really, the idea that he's advancing his career at an online "university" with a total of 450 students is personal damage control at its most painfully obvious. The guy was a disaster from the start (and yes, I worked with him from the start).

Since the May board meeting when the board courageously took its first decisive action against the wishes of the now ex-prez, not one person has risen to defend Goben from the onslaught of attacks about his disastrous tenure at Heartland. The hostility, pettiness, hubris, and condescension with which he reigned and the toxic ill-will that was generated in his presence are, happily, now a thing of the past. I sincerely hope all this gives Goben time to reflect and reinvent, but narcissistic personality types tend not, I think, to do either.

So let us rejoice! It's a new day. Thank you, Board! HCC under Rob's guidance and a new, savvy board is already back!

tinymushrooms
tinymushrooms

Ding-dong, the witch is dead...One can only hope that the door does, in fact, hit him in the a** on the way out.

Feel kind of bad for WGU, though.

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