Housatonic Community College Anticipates New President

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Published on October 15, 2014

The president of a college serves as a bridge between the interests of the students and the framework that is set up by the state boards and legislatures. Former college president Anita Gliniecki retired this September, and Elizabeth Roop was named Interim President. Now the search is on to appoint a new president of Housatonic Community College.

The president’s role, in a word, is an advocate. Roop says that being president requires a mix of skills. Roop says effective presidents must “be flexible, committed to [their] work and caring about students. [They have to] be a good advocate [to] help make the case about why [the issues] are important to the [college] community.”

While the president has authority on campus they ultimately answer to the Board of Regents. The BOR is an organization that is at the helm of seventeen colleges and universities in Connecticut. The BOR sets the criteria for financial aid, establishes tuition and accredits academic programs, among many other responsibilities. Furthermore, the BOR establishes committees to seek out, and appoint, qualified candidates for the presidential positions. One such committee is the College Advisory Committee.

Denise Bukovan, Dean of Outreach on the College Advisory Committee says she thinks it’s important for a new president to “have vision, new ideas [and to] move the campus forward in new directions. . . [it’s] challenging to be able to listen well and respond . . . to balance all that is quite a trick for a president.”

Along with administrative and communication skills, this complex job is one that requires good negotiation and an awareness for how things fit into the big picture. The president must be on top of what students have to say. The president has, “a fundamental interest in students and students success [and they] have a genuine understanding of community college and what they have to offer to the region and the nation.” Roop says.

Having an awareness of the environment surrounding HCC is key for the new president. Bukovan says an effective president could understand the “urban nature of Bridgeport in a sea of other affluent communities.” and be able to act accordingly.

An effective president, according to criteria set by the Board of Regents, is one that is student-centered. In addition to making a connection with the students, Bukovan says this could mean, “Do they meet with students regularly? Do they include a student representative on most committees and the president’s cabinet? Do they reach out to students when considering new policies?”

Latisa Pacheco, a student life worker at HCC, weighed in via email on what she would like to see from the new president. Pacheco says she’d like to see more,”Internships…scholarships [and a president who will] lower the retention rate…by helping us to pay for education instead of us feeling that we are being pushed out by financial hardship.”

Roop meets with her Academic Dean and the Dean of Students on a weekly basis to hear about students comments, concerns, and ongoing issues. Roop says her typical day as president entails meeting with various educators and administrators. Roop meets with presidents of other colleges, goes to board meetings, and meets with a variety of external groups including the Bridgeport Higher Education Association. Roop also sits on a Presidents Council that meets monthly in Hartford. She hears new policies being proposed and has opportunities to weigh in on significant issues.

Roop is optimistic about her successor. The new president will have “an awful lot of good work to build on here,” says Roop. “[HCC is] a strong college with a great future in front of it.”

After an extensive accreditation and interview process, on December 1-3, the finalists will come to campus to participate in forums. Interested students are encouraged to attend. The new president will be named on December 18 and will tentatively be in office January 2015.