Anthony Arminiak a fan of lifelong learning
By Dave Gorgon
Wyandotte native Anthony Arminiak’s passion for lifelong learning has been a perfect fit as he has risen through the ranks at Wayne County Community College District (WCCCD).
Arminiak, who is regional president of the Downriver Campus in Taylor and the Ted Scott Campus in Belleville, has been on a trajectory toward his current positions since graduating from Roosevelt High School in 1978.
“It’s a great job,” he said. “Every day is different.”
Arminiak’s path to college president actually started with earning associate’s and bachelor’s degrees to become an emergency medical technician (EMT) in emergency medical services (EMS) at Washtenaw Community College and Siena Heights University, respectively. Later, he earned a master’s degree in science administration-human resources management at Central Michigan University.
Along the way, he served as a paramedic at Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut and Taylor Ambulance Service for five years and a registered respiratory therapist in the Henry Ford Health System for six years and even taught part-time at Henry Ford Community College.
He saw an advertisement for a position at WCCCD and, with his vast experience, was hired as districtwide EMT program director for seven years, from 1994 to 2001. The position oversaw emergency room and multi-skilled health care technology and fire protection at all campuses.
Arminiak has been at WCCCD ever since – 27 years in all – and remains part of the leadership team. He said the college has provided opportunities for professional development, put in place by Chancellor Dr. Curtis Ivery, and he took advantage of those opportunities.
“They allow you to move up in the organization,” he said. “I think you can do that in any other organization; you just have to seek it out. You have to be a lifelong learner… Being a lifelong learner is a key to success.”
Arminiak was promoted to dean of instruction in 2001-2002 and then associate vice chancellor for career programs from 2002 to 2005.
He served as Downriver Campus president and provost of WCCCD’s Michigan Institute for Public Safety Education (MIPSE) and Health Services program through 2019. The position included overseeing the Heinz C. Prechter Educational and Performing Arts Center and the District Health Science Center.
The MIPSE program is heralded nationally to be one of the finest of its kind in the emergency training field and plays an integral role in making WCCCD a national leader in emergency training and response.
Like the college, the Prechter Center is a large facility that serves the entire region, providing a gathering place for significant events, additional higher-learning activities and even entertainment.
Since 2019, Arminiak has been regional campus president of both the Downriver and Ted Scott campuses.
His own education – which includes dozens of individual classes through FEMA, MIOSHA and the State of Michigan – prepared Arminiak for every challenge he faced.
“I think our role (at WCCCD) is always going to be supporting students to get entry-level career opportunities and offer courses that transfer to a four-year college or university,” he said, “along with workforce development, continuing education, community service and quality of life.”
Arminiak was at the helm of the Downriver Campus during the country’s economic crisis and massive unemployment of the late 2000s when people flooded community colleges searching for job training. He oversaw the infrastructure changes that helped manage the influx of students, who were suddenly able to attend classes between 5 a.m. and midnight and even go on Sundays.
“We were able to do it,” Arminiak said. “It was a challenge to accommodate everybody. There were so many people. There was such a sadness to hear their stories. I felt their pain. When you’re unemployed, you want a job right away. It was an emotional period. You couldn’t realize how many people were suddenly affected. It was very hard.”
Fast forward to the current-day COVID-19 global pandemic in which Arminiak and staff have had to play a big role in several ways, including increasing the number of classes offered virtually and serving as a place people can visit for both vaccines and food distribution. All but specialty labs are offered online these days. Arminiak said everyone is looking forward to the day campuses will be full again.
Arminiak said he is proud that WCCCD is fully accredited and had no findings from the higher learning commission last June. He said smaller class sizes, affordability and six full-service campuses in Wayne County make the community college an important piece of the community’s higher-learning opportunities.
The college president said he still has fond memories of Wyandotte, his years of living in the family home on 17th Street, attending Monroe Elementary School, Lincoln Middle School and Roosevelt, playing on the varsity football team and serving in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.
“I think Wyandotte was a great place to grow up,” Arminiak said. “It still is.”
He remembers enjoying park activities during the warmer months and attending weekend festivals throughout the year with his parents Norbert and Barbara and brothers Kyle, James and Eric. His parents were married 64 years before Norbert passed away this month. Kyle passed away last November from the coronavirus.
Arminiak and wife Ann, a registered nurse, recently moved from Brownstown Township to Gibraltar. They are the parents of son Justin and daughter Rachel and have four grandchildren. Ann, Justin and Rachel attended WCCCD and Rachel works for the college in distance learning. Justin works for a cyber security firm in Virginia.
Anthony Arminiak: Just the facts
Position: Regional Campus President of the Wayne County Community College District Downriver Campus in Taylor and the Ted Scott Campus in Belleville
Current Residence: Gibraltar
Education: Degrees from Washtenaw Community College, Siena Heights University and Central Michigan University, plus a host of credited classes through FEMA and other organizations; also graduated from Roosevelt High School in Wyandotte
Awards and Honors: Beaumont Healthy Communities Champion Award in appreciation for significant efforts to influence and improve community health; Award of Merit from the Boy Scouts of America; Paul Harris Fellow from the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International
Organizations: Current board member and past chairman of the Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber; board member of the Wayne County College Access Network through SEMCA; member of the City of Taylor Local Development Finance Authority Commission; member of the Taylor Kiwanis Club