What kind of person should next lead Northeast Community College?
College administrators, board members and employees, as well as the general public, had the chance Thursday to share their thoughts about what they want to see from the college’s ninth president.
Leading the discussions was Pauly Group President Angela Provart. Based in Springfield, Ill., the group specializes in presidential candidate searches for community and technical colleges in both urban and rural areas.
Common themes in the listening sessions were innovation, student success, relationship-building and developing the college’s most successful programs while starting others that are needed in its 20-county service area, Provart said.
About 30 people attended the public forum Thursday afternoon in the Lifelong Learning Center, which included video conferencing from five remote sites in Northeast’s three extended campuses in O’Neill, South Sioux City and West Point, as well as its two regional offices in Ainsworth and Hartington.
Among those in attendance state Sen. Timothy Gragert of Creighton, who said he was impressed with all the educational pathways former president Michael Chipps helped forge through his communication and fundraising skills. Chipps retired May 31 after serving the college for seven years.
“I hope the next president continues on with opportunities already here and adds opportunities like (Chipps has) done over his career here,” Gragert said.
Northeast student Hunter Bergman voiced his appreciation for Chipps’ personable attitude towards the student body and support of student groups.
“I think the next president should focus on the students. It makes you feel valuable,” he said. “A lot of students knew who Chipps was and he knew a lot of my friends on a first-name basis.”
Recent graduate Rachel Biehl said she hopes Northeast will continue making student success its main focus. A music business major, Biehl said she received a lot of individual attention as well as faculty support for the student performing arts groups she was in.
“I was very involved in the fine arts on campus, (I’d) often see Dr. Chipps at concerts and performances, and I’d really like to see continued involvement in that,” she said.
Others at the forum drew attention to the importance of collaborating with other entities in Northeast Nebraska. Wayne State College President Marysz Rames said she hopes to continue strengthening partnerships between the college and Northeast.
“I’d love to continue to have an opportunity to work in partnership with the two-year institution. … How do we really work together to keep the best and most talented students in this part of the state,” she said.
Attendees from remote sites brought up the need to serve Northeast’s rural communities. Provart said each forum has mentioned updating programs and making changes to meet the needs of everyone within Northeast’s service area.
Getting insights from internal and external stakeholders is the first step in the search process. After synthesizing all the information from listening sessions and a survey that the college will be conducting until June 28, the college will advertise nationwide for the position. This will take place the week after July 4 and will involve traditional media, recruiting calls and emails, Provart said.
During this time, a committee comprised of 12 people, including board members and a representative from each employee group, will be screening applicants. After the close date of August 26, the pool will be narrowed to about a dozen candidates. A Northeast student representative will also join the committee when the 2019-20 school year begins.
Interviews will take place mid-September, during which time the committee will narrow the pool to about three to five candidates. After that, the final candidates will be announced and invited to the college for on-campus interviews in early October. The board of governors will make the final decision on hiring the new president, who is scheduled to start in January.
In the board of governors monthly meeting Thursday, board chairperson Steve Anderson of Concord said the board is looking forward to hearing from constituents and working with Pauly Group to find the best candidate to continue the college’s vision.
“Passion, dedication, success of students in the region is key to our national and international success,” he said. “That is why we seek highly motivated, positive-thinking professionals who foster the core values behind who we are, how we work and how we treat others. … We look forward to continuing discussion and thank everyone for their involvement.”