Former AACC President, Phi Theta Kappa Board of Directors Vice Chair Remembered

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Dr. David Pierce, former president of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and longtime Vice Chair of Phi Theta Kappa’s Board of Directors, died on January 16, 2014, in Normal, Illinois.

Dr. David Pierce

From left to right are Board of Directors colleagues Tony Sadberry, Brady Surles, Dr. Rod Risley, Dr. Shirley Gordon, Dr. David Pierce and Dr. Henry Moreland.

Phi Theta Kappa’s Executive Director and CEO Dr. Rod A. Risley praised Dr. Pierce as a longtime supporter of Phi Theta Kappa.

“In thinking back over two decades, it’s difficult to think about an aspect of Phi Theta Kappa that Dr. David Pierce did not influence – from the presenting of the All-USA Community College Academic Team during Phi Theta Kappa's President's Breakfast at the AACC Convention, to supporting the establishment of All-State Academic Teams, leading Phi Theta Kappa's first-ever capital campaign, and the construction of Phi Theta Kappa's Center for Excellence,” Dr. Risley said. “Even after serving for 11 years on our Board of Directors, most as Vice Chair, he continued to engage in Society initiatives and give back through the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation.

"Phi Theta Kappa was proud to recognize David's contribution to the work of Phi Theta Kappa by conferring its highest honor to a non-member, International Honorary Membership. Without question he left an incredible legacy in his work with community college education and Phi Theta Kappa, and he will be deeply missed.”

Dr. Pierce became the second AACC leader to serve on the Society’s Board of Directors (following Dr. Dale Parnell), serving from 1992 to 2003 and as Vice Chair from 2001 to 2003. During his tenure he led the participation of community college presidents in the Society’s first capital campaign to raise funds for construction of the Center for Excellence, Phi Theta Kappa’s permanent Headquarters.

Dr. Pierce is also credited with beginning the tradition of recognizing the All-USA Community College Academic Team during Phi Theta Kappa’s annual President’s Breakfast at the AACC convention and assisting with the development of the Centennial Scholars Program (today the New Century Scholars program), which honors the top community college student in each state. In gratitude for his service, he was named an International Honorary Member of Phi Theta Kappa in 2001.

As President and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges from 1991 to 2000, Dr. Pierce led AACC through financial challenges into restructuring and expanding into the international arena. Prior to his selection as AACC President, he served as President of North Iowa Area Community College, President of the Illinois Community College Board, and Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System.

After completing an associate degree at Fullerton College, Dr. Pierce earned baccalaureate and master's degrees in mathematics and education from California State University at Long Beach and a doctorate from Purdue University. A native of Oklahoma, he served in the United States Marine Corps and is a veteran of the Korean War. At the time of his death, he was enjoying retirement and travel from his Normal, Illinois, home with Maureen, his wife of 56 years.

Interviewed recently for Phi Theta Kappa’s Visionary Magazine and History of Impact Publication, Dr. Pierce recalled his service on the Society’s Board of Directors and reiterated his unwavering support for Phi Theta Kappa, calling it “the marvel and envy of the educational world.”

“A Phi Theta Kappa chapter benefits students by providing an almost unlimited number of opportunities in the form of scholarships, recognitions, honors, networking and enrichment programs. A student who becomes active in Phi Theta Kappa and takes advantage of its program opportunities will benefit in a transformational way as both a person and student,” he said. “I think Phi Theta Kappa provides motivation and recognition for students who historically didn’t benefit from those advantages. It’s our standard-bearer for community colleges — making opportunities available that weren’t previously there.”

Dr. Pierce was also a member of Phi Theta Kappa Foundation’s Athena Society, having remembered the Society in his estate planning. His wife, Maureen, and their children requested that, in lieu of flowers, gifts be made in Dr. Pierce's memory to the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation Scholarship Fund online, or by contacting Philanthropy Coordinator Karri Chaney, karri.chaney@ptk.org  at 601.987.5507. To give by mail, make checks payable to Phi Theta Kappa Foundation and mail to the Center for Excellence, 1625 Eastover Drive, Jackson, MS  39211.

A private family graveside service inurnment will be held on Wednesday, January  22, at the East Lawn Cemetery in Bloomington, Illinois. There will be no visitation, but messages of condolence may be left at the guestbook.

Remembrances of Dr. Pierce may also be shared on the Phi Theta Kappa Facebook page and alumni Facebook page.

Read Dr. Pierce’s complete obituary at Community College Daily, Inside Higher Ed and The Oklahoman.