Peaslee Tech to begin search for new leader

In this file photo from 2014, Marvin Hunt, left, director of the Dwayne Peaslee Technical Training Center, gets some training from Tim Woodroof, physicality maintenance manager, center, as employee Maurice Murphy, right, works a packing machine at the Plastikon Industries Inc. located in the East Hills Industrial Park.

The man who helped start Lawrence’s largest vo-tech school plans to retire as students return for the fall semester.

Marvin Hunt has announced he plans to resign as executive director of Peaslee Tech, the nonprofit, vocational education school located near 31st Street and Haskell Avenue. Hunt, who has been in the area education industry for several decades, said he plans to retire on Sept. 30.

“Developing Peaslee Tech has been a great way to serve our community before I retire,” Hunt said in a news release. “It has required a lot of involvement from community leaders, students and instructors, and I am proud of Lawrence and Douglas County for responding so positively.”

Hunt has served as the first executive director for the school, which has grown to about 300 students since its opening in 2015. The program has grown its number of classes and degree offerings also. Local auto dealers have partnered with the school on a new lab for automotive technicians, and area homebuilders have partnered on a program to train carpenters. The school also has courses in welding, heating and air conditioning repair, health care, industrial technology and several other areas.

Shirley Martin-Smith, chair of the board of directors that oversees the school, said a search for Hunt’s replacement will begin soon, with a goal of having a new director in place by the end of September. Hunt has agreed to stay on in a part-time capacity for a few months to help with the transition in leadership.

Marvin Hunt

“Marvin has served with distinction during his tenure,” Martin-Smith said in a press release. “The Board of Directors is positioned to move forward with the strategic plans for Peaslee Tech, and appreciate all that he has achieved for the students now and in the future.”

Hunt, 61, said he decided now was the right time to retire and pursue other interests. He was worked for area universities and colleges since 1986, including a 22-year stint at the University of Kansas and four years as the dean of business and continuing education at Kansas City Kansas Community College.

But prior to getting into the academic world, Hunt was a professional musician. He and his band The House Jumpers are still playing and recently recorded a new album in Austin. Hunt said his retirement plans include more work with the band.

“I just figured if I’m going to get everything done in life, I had better get to doing it,” Hunt said.

Hunt, though, said he’ll be watching future endeavors at Peaslee Tech with interest. He said the school is going through a good growth program. He anticipates there will be about a dozen new courses offered this fall, including courses related to commercial drivers licenses, computer network systems, pharmacy technician training and others.

Hunt said he’s also optimistic that the school soon will secure funding for a new plumbing and facilities maintenance lab.

He thinks enrollment growth also will occur as word begins to spread about the programs, and as attitudes begin to change about the opportunities offered by the blue-collar trades.

“The community is still learning about this as a viable way to get a dang good job with not much investment,” Hunt said. “You can get out of here with a couple of thousand dollars in debt and then got get a job for $40,000 a year or more. That is a dang good deal.”