Passionate advocate for equity in U.S. higher education and a champion of community college as a pathway to upward mobility, Dr. Justin H. Lonon today assumed the office of Dallas College chancellor, becoming the eighth chancellor of what is one of the largest community colleges in the country.
Already deeply ingrained in the fabric of the college, Dr. Lonon has been providing executive and strategic leadership for faculty, staff and students for over 16 years, helping to guide the institution most recently through a historic consolidation to better fulfill the Dallas College mission of “transforming lives and communities through higher education” — a cause to which he has dedicated his career.
Under a leadership transition plan approved by the Dallas College Board of Trustees in 2021, Dr. Lonon replaces outgoing Chancellor Joe May, who yesterday relinquished his day-to-day duties and responsibilities in his move to emeritus status.
“I am truly excited to see Dr. Lonon as our new chancellor because I know he shares the vision that has guided this institution in the past and is so important to its future,” said Chancellor Emeritus May. “He cares about students, he cares about the community, and he has been instrumental in Dallas College’s transformation, too. I look forward to seeing how he will continue the work that is so vital to the future of Dallas.”
On his first day, Dr. Lonon takes the helm of a sprawling educational enterprise whose network of seven individual campuses has a footprint in every corner of Dallas County. In addition to making a $204.1 million economic impact each year through payroll and operations spending in Dallas County, the college each year welcomes more than 125,000 students pursuing more than 300 degrees (including a new bachelor’s in education) and certificates — with 90% of those students continuing to live in Texas post certificate or degree.
Prior to becoming chancellor, Dr. Lonon provided direction and vision for nearly every functional area across Dallas College while maintaining a singular focus on serving the needs of students, employees and the community.
“I might be sitting on the other side of a different desk now, but my focus remains the same,” Dr. Lonon said. “Dallas College will continue to remove barriers to education and create job opportunities for students who want to ‘enroll in a career.’ By continuing to work with partners across the city, state and nation, Dallas College is uniquely positioned to provide a quality education and create a pipeline of talent for high-demand jobs and fulfill our mission. There is much work to be done, but Dallas College has already created a culture of care, impact and innovation for our students and the community.”
Lonon Brings Strong Record of Service to New Role
In his immediate-past role as executive vice chancellor, Dr. Lonon had operational responsibility for finance; governmental relations; legal affairs; board relations; diversity, equity and inclusion; facilities; human resources; innovation and technology; marketing and communications; safety and security; emergency management; institutional effectiveness; and strategic initiatives. He also previously led Dallas College’s educational policy and workforce and economic development activities, and served as interim president of Brookhaven College in 2019, overseeing a campus of nearly 20,000 students prior to the consolidation of Dallas College.
Dr. Lonon’s record of public service precedes his experience in higher education, having served in city government as press secretary to former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk. In that role, Dr. Lonon was involved in several significant development projects such as the Trinity River Project and other public works initiatives that fostered economic development in underserved areas of the city, leading to community restoration and major transportation corridors along the Trinity River, as well as the construction of the American Airlines Center at a former brownfield site.
At City Hall, Dr. Lonon gained experience solving civic issues through grassroots community work, honing coalition-building skills that made him an ideal candidate to begin leading Dallas College from the ground up. Prior to joining Dallas College in 2005, he worked in the private sector and represented civic and community organizations such as Parkland Hospital, YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas, the West Dallas Initiative, Central Dallas Association (now Downtown Dallas Inc.) and the Dallas City Retirees Association. Dr. Lonon continues to serve on several national and local boards, including the Austin-based United Ways of Texas, the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas’ Advancement Committee, the Dallas Father of the Year Awards, Rebuilding America’s Middle Class and COMBASE, a national consortium of leading community colleges.
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The Arkansas native holds a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Missouri State University, a master’s degree in public administration from the University of North Texas and a doctorate in management from the University of Maryland – Global Campus.
Upon selecting Dr. Lonon as the sole finalist for chancellor in June, board chair Monica Lira Bravo said, “Our board is confident that Dr. Lonon has the right experience, skills and vision to continue bridging the educational gap in Dallas County, making Dallas College a valued resource for students, community partners and employers alike. We wish him well as he embarks on his first year as chancellor.”