As a Rockford born native and former RVC student, Mike Mastroianni knows more about this college campus than most.
Mastroianni dedicated his career as the president to bettering the functioning of the campus and the lives of each and every student, and understands what it means to attend a community college. By growing up in poverty, Rock Valley College was the best choice for his college education and was made possible through the help of his older siblings and parents. He graduated from RVC in 1972 and then remained in the Rockford area by attending and graduating from Rockford University in 1974.
With his later experience in human resources and leading a consulting business, Mastroianni applied for a position at RVC as the Director of Management Institute. This continued his history with the college as well as with the community, and with this initial position, Mastroianni had the chance to expand his RVC network. When the position for Dean was available, he applied for that and was hired. Then he moved on to a vice president role, eventually becoming the president for the past three years since January 2014, when he began as an interim president. By being a strong part of the Rockford community, Mastroianni was able to make that distinct connection between RVC and Rockford and fit well as a president. An important part of being the president of a community college is the involvement in the community portion. And this is a task that Mastroianni fully believes Dr. Douglas Jensen, the new RVC president, will be able to accomplish.
To some, three years may not seem very long as a presidential term, but this was a number that suited Mastroianni. By retiring his presidency, and in total 19 year career at RVC, he is now able to focus on a few important things in his life: his family, his former business, and his former band. Although Clutch Cargo has been continuing since his departure 7 years ago, the band is gearing up for their final farewell season as they say goodbye to the Rockford region. Originally a member for 13 years, Mastroianni is now returning as the keyboardist to help the group perform their last shows. Resurrecting his former consulting business has crossed his mind, but he is still in debate about whether or not he should; however, he knows for sure that he wants to spend as much time with his family as possible.
As Rock Valley’s president, Mastroianni has learned how to grow as a more effective leader and how to cope with the fact that growth can only come through hardship. Through his experiences, he developed a three point path in order to know if he is going in the right direction. First, he asks himself, Am I looking at things correctly? This is a concept that has helped him to grow because even leaders need advice and there are times when asking a colleague who understands the context can benefit any situation. Second, if he thinks he is in the wrong direction, he asks himself, What can I do about it? And third, he attempts to make an impact or manage that stress that might have been caused.
“I’ve always been a person that rules a lot with heart, and I still think it’s good, but I think there are times where I have to balance that out with head,” Mastroianni said. While he couldn’t always do what everyone wanted him to do, he knows that through the difficult decisions he had to make that RVC has grown as a result of his presidency and the faculty and staff that are dedicated to this college. The vital part of being the president for him was learning to adhere to his core values and that it is impossible to please every single person. As long as he is able to look into the mirror and say he did the best that he could do and truly believes it, then he has grown. Overall, Mike Mastroianni has thoroughly enjoyed his time and his history with RVC. “Although challenging and sometimes taxing, I remember that for every one thing that is frustrating, there are 10 other positive things,” he said.
Rock Valley College is saying goodbye to a wonderful president, but opening the doors to a new one. To see Mr. Mastroianni continuing his impact on the Rockford community, check out Clutch Cargo’s upcoming schedule here.