After 30 years of dedicated service, Dean Wendle has retired from the Rogue Community College Board of Education. His tenure was the longest of any board member, past or present, spanning more than half the history of the college.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my elected position with RCC,” Wendle said. “I served on this board with a marvelous group of colleagues who sought to provide the best educational opportunities for our students, communities and staff.”
RCC President Cathy Kemper-Pelle expressed thanks on behalf of the entire college. “Dean’s passion for RCC and the students we serve is evident in the length and integrity of his service,” she said. “He truly believes in the role of community colleges in regional economic development and in transforming lives through education.”
Kemper-Pelle noted that Wendle’s longstanding dedication to education, and his extensive knowledge of the community’s history and people “gives him an amazing perspective that has been extremely helpful to me as a new college president and new resident of the region.” She added that Wendle’s wife, DonnaJean, was also a great help when she started as RCC president in 2016.
Wendle worked with dozens of board members to guide the college as it grew and evolved. He was on the board when the RCC Associate Degree in Nursing program was launched in 1989, and when RogueNet, the computer program for all college operations, was created in the mid-1990s. Also during his tenure was the development of the RCC website (1996); the expansion of the RCC District into Jackson County with the opening the Riverside Campus in Medford (1997); and the addition of the Table Rock Campus near White City (2006), and expansion of services at the Illinois Valley Learning Center (2009).
Most recently, Wendle provided wisdom and guidance for a $20 million bond levy approved by voters in 2016. Kemper-Pelle praised Wendle for his advice on college finance and bond oversight. “Dean provided valuable guidance on construction projects began across the district,” she said.
These projects include the expansion of Table Rock Campus with the high tech center and the planned health occupations building, and the planned revitalization of the Redwood Campus with science building and many infrastructure projects.
Wendle was the board chair when he retired in June. New board chair Claudia Sullivan said of Wendle’s service, “Naturally, Dean will be missed. He has really dedicated himself — so has his wife DonnaJean — to education in our valley. We all are grateful for the work that he has done over all these years.”
Sullivan said the board always benefitted from Wendle’s experience and perspective. “He brought so much history of the college to our meetings, and there are so many valuable contributions that Dean has made. One that stands out is his ability to make sound financial judgements for the college, stemming from his career in banking.”
Originally from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Wendle graduated from the University of Idaho with a degree in finance and from the Pacific Coast Graduate School of Banking at the University of Washington.
After college, Wendle went to the U.S. Navy’s Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, where he earned a commission as ensign. After release from active duty, he was in the Navy Reserve and retired with the rank of captain.
Wendle worked in banking in California, Idaho and Oregon, and is a retired vice president from both Bank of America and Chase Bank.
Dean and DonnaJean Wendle have long been active in community nonprofits and other school boards. They jointly received recognition for their contributions in 2005 as the RCC Citizens of the Year, and in 2010 they jointly received the Asante Spears Award for their contributions to education.
Wendle said he is proud to have served as the RCC Board representative to the Oregon Community College Association (OCCA), and as board president of OCCA. He received the OCCA Dedicated Service Award in 2015; the Howard Cherry Award for Outstanding Community College Board Member in 2007; and the Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development, Inc. annual Inspiration Award in 2014.
Kemper-Pelle said service such as Wendle’s has a lasting effect, like ripples that move forward, inspiring people to carry on the mission. “Special thanks to Dean Wendle for showing us what it means to be a servant leader,” she said.
Wendle thanked the members of the board and RCC leadership for their dedication and recognized the excellent faculty. “The dedicated and gifted faculty and staff never ceased to make me proud to be a part of Rogue Community College,” he said. “I continue to be a strong believer in the power of education and the unique role that community colleges play in the lives of individuals as well as the impact that we have on the region. I will look forward to watching this wonderful organization grow and prosper in serving the educational needs of our area.”
The boardwill appoint an interim candidate to serve in Wendle’s place through June 30 of next year. The next regular district election will be in May, at which time an election will be held to fill the remainder of the four-year term through June 2021.