Seeking justice, creating access to education

Leadership is the spot-on career insignia of political science Cornell College grad Tim Wynes ՚83. As a prosecutor in Missouri, he established a tactical team of police officers, social workers, and therapists to triage cases of sexual assault and other crimes against women and children. In short, Wynes saw a clear need and led a group of people with varied skillsets to work as a team, in this case, serving vulnerable victims. 

Wynes earned a faculty appointment at the University of Missouri Law School, where he continued his work with victims of family and domestic violence. His students wrote a guide for victims to help them navigate the legal system. 

Wynes left the law school to run a legal department for Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan, where he worked with several state agencies to help create the State Tactical Assistance Team (STAT). STAT was based on his previous triage team model in order to assist attorneys and victims of crime throughout Missouri. Wynes led litigation and drafted legislation intended to impact the most vulnerable populations, children and elderly citizens. 

Tim Wynes and his dog Hayley hand out treats to trick-or-treaters.
Tim Wynes and his dog Hayley hand out treats to trick-or-treaters.

He then went on to work as the chancellor for the Iowa Valley Community College District from 2002 through 2010, where he built programs for immigrant populations such as a dual language health career ladder (CNA to RN) and expanded access to education for underserved students through grants and scholarships. 

“At Iowa Valley Community College, we also passed the largest bond issue for any community college in the state at $35 million, a record that still stands,” Wynes says. “The bond funds revitalized every aspect of the college and expanded opportunities for students throughout central Iowa.”

In 2010, he took on a new role that lasted for eight years, as the president of two Minnesota community colleges. Wynes was tasked with the mission to align the two separate colleges—Inver Hills Community College and Dakota County Technical College.  

“We were able to streamline administration and save over $1 million a year without a negative impact to our students and faculty,” Wynes says. “We led the state in increased enrollment for two consecutive years.”

Currently, he is the president of Black Hawk College. Wynes was brought to Black Hawk to provide stability and innovation to a college that has had seven presidents in the last decade and suffered major funding cuts during a statewide budget crisis. 

Wynes credits many of the people he’s worked with over the years as essential to his career accomplishments, another sign of an individual with strong leadership attributes. 

“I didn’t work on any project alone; I worked with a lot of wonderful people at each stop,” he says. “I was a leader in student government and assistant head resident advisor for Olin Hall during my time at Cornell. I learned so much about working in teams and the importance of leading by bringing people along with you, not by charging ahead on your own expecting everyone to follow.”

Wynes credits One Course At a Time with helping prepare him for law school and his career.

“I learned to make the most of time outside of class; to organize assignments—short, middle, and long-term; to read critically; to write drafts and rewrite often just days later,” he says. “Faculty were accessible and it was a learning experience figuring out how to interact with high-level professionals.”  

Wynes has some advice for students considering Cornell’s block plan. 

The Hilltop as seen from the air.
The Hilltop as seen from the air.

“The block plan is doable and it will bring out the best in you,” he says. “You can take more variety of coursework at Cornell than just about any other small college because of One Course At A Time. The small campus and small-town are actually positives—you find your tribe.”

Wynes remembers fondly some moments from his Cornell life, including how he met his wife, Rebecca Reed-Wynes ՚82, at a political debate that their instructor in an introduction to politics class encouraged them to attend. They were the only two from class who showed up. 

He also remembers the registrar, Charles Milhauser. 

“I was going to be one course short of graduating on time,” he says. “Mr. Milhauser spotted that early and arranged for me to take an independent study class. Where else would that happen?”

Wynes was class speaker at Commencement and it wasn’t just giving the speech that made it memorable.

“Outside of the audience’s earshot, the college president, Phil Secor, and the college CFO, Charles Cochran, were giving me a hard time with little side comments,” he says. “It made the moment more memorable.”

Wynes maintains connections to the Cornell community in his role as Class Agent. 

“I love hearing from classmates and reconnecting at Homecoming,” Wynes says. 
So, classmates from the ’80s, make sure to say hello to him the next time you return to the Hilltop for Homecoming.