NORFOLK - Two finalists for the position of president of Northeast Community College visited the Norfolk campus this week.
Dr. Charles Nwankwo and Dr. Leah Barrett each spent a full day touring campus, spoke at two open forums and participated in in-depth interviews with the Board of Governors. The third candidate, Dr. Lenny Klaver, president of North Central Missouri College, was on campus last week.
During an open forum on Monday, Nwankwo, vice president of technology and business partnerships at Gilbert Community College (CGCC) in Arizona, said he has served in several capacities during his 24-year employment at the community college level.
“I must tell you this is an awesome position you guys have,” he said. “And all of the things I’ve done in community college has led me to this point. I’ve done everything in community college except be the president.”
Nwankwo said he would concentrate on three areas that he feels are crucial at the community college level – student focus and access, human capital investment and community engagement.
Barrett, vice president for student affairs for the Northern Wyoming Community College District (NWCCD), began her first open forum by stating that community colleges do what they have to do to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to reach a level of happiness and fulfillment in their lives and employment prospects.
She said, “The success of our students isn’t just about if they complete - it’s about their experience, their opportunities to explore, their opportunities to meet professionals that do what they want to do. It’s about the staff who sit at the front desk and talk to students as they walk by and have that connection and provide that smiling face. You have that here.”
Barrett has 27-years of experience working in higher education. Prior to NWCCD, she served as the associate vice president for enrollment management and student affairs at The College at Brockport (NY), and has also been employed at the Arizona State University, Boise State University, Valparaiso University and, the University of Wyoming.
Steve Anderson, chair of the Northeast board of governors, said the board would like to select a new president this fall with the successful candidate starting in January 2020. The new president will succeed
Dr. Michael Chipps, who retired in May. Co-interim presidents Mary Honke and Steve Schram, former Northeast administrators, will continue to serve in their roles until to the new president assumes office.
Biographies of the three finalists and additional information on the process may be found on Northeast’s Presidential Search website at www.northeast.edu/presidential-search.