2013 Commencement Speaker
Ira A. Rutherford, III
Educator and Community Leader
Ira A. Rutherford III is the oldest of four children born to Ira A. and Clara Rutherford of Detroit, Michigan. His parents were active in the Detroit Community; his father serving as a school volunteer and coach, while his mother served as a member of the Detroit Board of Education for sixteen years. Their commitment to community involvement and social justice helped shape his public service through education.
After attending Highland Park Community College and earning his Bachelors of Arts Degree from Western Michigan University, Ira returned to Detroit. There he simultaneously served as a Junior High teacher, Play Leader for the City of Detroit and basketball coach, while earning a Masters in Educational Psychology.
He was subsequently recruited by his alma mater (Western Michigan University) to teach, work with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Program, and attend Graduate School. After eight years in Kalamazoo, Ira relocated to Flint, Michigan to become Assistant Superintendent of the Beecher Community Schools. After three years he became the Superintendent. Mr. Rutherford served with distinction as Superintendent of the Beecher Community Schools for over twenty years. He expanded wrap-around services to students and families while raising academic achievement.
Upon retiring from the Beecher Community Schools, he established The Rutherford Group. The Rutherford Group specializes in working with boards of education, universities, and community organizations while advancing urban education and the study of African-American history and culture. In 2000 he led a Genesee County literacy Initiative developed by eight local organizations. During this time he also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Michigan - Flint.
In 2005 he “unretired” to lead the Flint Community Schools as the Superintendent for a year.
In the spirit that was inculcated by his family, Mr. Rutherford has served on many boards locally and nationally. He is also a member of several civic and fraternal organizations. In recognition of his dedication and service to the community, he has received several awards and many accolades.
Mr. Rutherford also believes that the community college system is a valuable and often under- valued resource that can provide a gateway to success for many students.