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Dean retires after serving Gadsden State for over 40 years

Surrounded by family, friends and co-workers, Dr. Jim Prucnal celebrates his retirement with almost 41 years of service at Gadsden State Community College.

“I’m all about Gadsden State,” he said at a retirement reception held today. “I always have been and I always will be.”

Prucnal has been a part of the Gadsden State family since he was a student in the early-1970s. He graduated in 1974 with an Associate in Science in Business Administration before transferring to Jacksonville State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. In 1977, Prucnal received a Master of Business Administration from Auburn University.

After a short stint as a staff accountant, the Gadsden native started working as an instructor at Gadsden State. For 18 years, he taught accounting, marketing and business law. In 1982, he earned a Doctor of Education from the University of Alabama before getting promoted to dean in 1996.

In 2002, Prucnal graduated from the College Business Management Institute at the University of Kentucky and was inducted as a member of the Oxford Round Table at Oxford University.

Prucnal has been honored a number of times by his peers. He is the two-time winner of the Excellence Award given by the National Institute for Staff Development as well as the Alabama Community College System Chancellor’s Award. He received the Alabama Association for Higher Education in Business Excellence in Teaching Award and was named Financial Manager of the Year in 2004 by the ACCS Financial Management Association.

Prucnal currently serves on the All-Alabama Academic Team Foundation Board of Directors and is a charter member of the Gadsden State Alumni Association. He held the prestigious position of president of the Alabama Community College Association in 2000. For 11 collective years, Prucnal also served as the advisor of Phi Beta Lambda, a career and technical student organization, and Alpha Beta Gamma honor society.

Through the years, Prucnal has worked for all eight college presidents, has witnessed the College grow from one campus to six and has successfully guided the College through many financial audits. He certainly has seen a lot of changes, most notably in technology.

“I’m wearing more power on my wrist than we had at the entire college when I first started teaching,” he said. “Technology makes everything better, from registering to teaching to graduating.”

Surrounded by family, friends and co-workers, Dr. Jim Prucnal celebrates his retirement with almost 41 years of service at Gadsden State Community College.

“I’m all about Gadsden State,” he said at a retirement reception held today. “I always have been and I always will be.”

Prucnal has been a part of the Gadsden State family since he was a student in the early-1970s. He graduated in 1974 with an Associate in Science in Business Administration before transferring to Jacksonville State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. In 1977, Prucnal received a Master of Business Administration from Auburn University.

After a short stint as a staff accountant, the Gadsden native started working as an instructor at Gadsden State. For 18 years, he taught accounting, marketing and business law. In 1982, he earned a Doctor of Education from the University of Alabama before getting promoted to dean in 1996.

In 2002, Prucnal graduated from the College Business Management Institute at the University of Kentucky and was inducted as a member of the Oxford Round Table at Oxford University.

Prucnal has been honored a number of times by his peers. He is the two-time winner of the Excellence Award given by the National Institute for Staff Development as well as the Alabama Community College System Chancellor’s Award. He received the Alabama Association for Higher Education in Business Excellence in Teaching Award and was named Financial Manager of the Year in 2004 by the ACCS Financial Management Association.

Prucnal currently serves on the All-Alabama Academic Team Foundation Board of Directors and is a charter member of the Gadsden State Alumni Association. He held the prestigious position of president of the Alabama Community College Association in 2000. For 11 collective years, Prucnal also served as the advisor of Phi Beta Lambda, a career and technical student organization, and Alpha Beta Gamma honor society.

Through the years, Prucnal has worked for all eight college presidents, has witnessed the College grow from one campus to six and has successfully guided the College through many financial audits. He certainly has seen a lot of changes, most notably in technology.

“I’m wearing more power on my wrist than we had at the entire college when I first started teaching,” he said. “Technology makes everything better, from registering to teaching to graduating.”

Something that has not changed is his work address, which has always been at Allen Hall, the first building constructed on the Wallace Drive Campus.

“Through my time in instruction and administration, I have had offices all over Allen Hall,” he said. “It’s unique to spend over 40 years in one building.”

Dr. Jim Prucnal is pictured in Allen Hall, a Gadsden State building currently being renovated.
The new science building is being constructed in the background.

In his position, Prucnal is responsible for infrastructure, and he is very proud of the improvements that have taken place over the last 20 years, including the construction of the Joe Ford Center and Gadsden State Cherokee as well as a number of renovation projects. Currently, there are three projects underway at Gadsden State – renovations at Allen Hall and the Cheaha Center on the Ayers Campus and the construction of the new science building on the East Broad Campus. The projects are being funded with a $25 million bond issue.

“All of these projects are the result of teamwork,” he said. “Every success at Gadsden State is a team effort. You can’t do very much all on your own.”

While some co-workers thought Prucnal would see the current facility projects through completion, he said he is ready for retirement now.

“There’s never a good time to retire,” he said. “In my business, I keep one hand on the phone or the computer and the other hand on the deadline list. I’ve never had a time there wasn’t a project going on at one of our campuses. I just decided that 40-plus years is long enough and it’s time to move on.”

Upon retirement, Prucnal will remain active as a member of the Gadsden Civitan Club and St. James Catholic Church, where he is a member with his wife of 30 years, Mary E. Rutherford, M.D., and his two daughters. He wants to do volunteer work as well as dive into some of his favorite hobbies – woodworking, traveling and farming. He will officially retire on Feb. 28, and he knows it will be an adjustment not seeing his co-workers on a daily basis.

“The students, faculty and staff is what the College is all about,” he said. “Our instructors really care about our students. I have worked with some amazing people, and I’ve had some outstanding mentors during my time as a student and instructor.”

In the end, he is proud of his long career in education.

“I’m proud the College is in a good financial state and our infrastructure continues to change for the better,” he said. “Our institution is second to none in the state of Alabama. We impact people’s lives and continue to improve. I’m proud of that.”