Dr. Jack E. Daniels, III – Black Men in Educational Leadership

April 29, 2021

Dr. Jack E. Daniels, III, President, Madison Area Technical College

It’s been almost 10 years since Madison Area Technical College began rebranding itself as Madison College, but a lot of folks in Madison still don’t fully understand the impact Madison College has on the greater Madison region, and even fewer appreciate the role Madison College President Dr. Jack E. Daniels, III has played, and continues to play, in determining the shared future of Madison and its citizens.

This impact is significant, according to Madison Magazine, which published an interview with Daniels on August 16, 2019. In April 2020, Daniels received the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s Shirley B. Gordon Award, which is the international organization’s most prestigious award for community college presidents. Daniels is also a down-to-earth, person, according to Turina Bakken, current provost at Madison College. She was assigned to be Daniels’ “ambassador,” showing him around and introducing him to people when he interviewed for the job in 2013. Somehow during lunch the topic turned to dogs, Bakken said Daniels reached for his phone and unprompted showed her a photo of his dog wearing sunglasses.

Daniels grew up on the South Side of Chicago and said he remembers family camping trips to Wisconsin Dells and Devil’s Lake State Park. Prior to his appointment as president of Madison College, Daniels had been President of Los Angeles Southwest College, an 8,000-student school, since 2006. Prior to that he had been president of Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, IL.

After his appointment as president of Madison College, Daniels spent considerable time familiarizing himself with the culture, learning about the community and its leaders, going so far as to schedule appointments to have conversations and establish relationships. The result, according to Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce President Zach Brandon was the creation of “Team Jack.” “He has the innate ability to make you feel like you’re part of a team because he is on everybody else’s team.”

That inside knowledge of the college and his new relationships in the community were helpful during his first year in office as he helped win approval for a brand new, game-changing campus in South Madison and the closure of the downtown campus. Observers watched Daniels with a mixture of admiration and envy as he won over the Madison College Board which deadlocked 4-4 on a preliminary proposal before approving the final proposal 9-0.