Shaun McKay, president of Suffolk County Community College, is one of three finalists to helm Tennessee’s public college system, officials said.
McKay, who has overseen SCCC since 2010, is vying for the post of chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents, which governs 46 postsecondary educational institutions with 200,000 students across the state. Suffolk, the state’s largest community college by population, has 26,500 credit students, 10,000 continuing education students and a proposed $219 million budget.
During his tenure at SCCC, McKay has pushed for increased public funding to the community college, increased tuition over the past several years and has seen a small enrollment drop this year.
McKay, who was paid $291,196.17 in total compensation with a base salary of $240,270.16 in 2015, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday.
Tennessee’s acting chancellor, David Gregory, is paid $269,000 annually, according to The College System of Tennessee’s salary database. The chancellor post does not include governance over the highly regarded University of Tennessee system.
“It’s a personal and professional opportunity to run that kind of system — [it] would be a big step up for him,” said Theresa Sanders, president of the SCCC board of trustees. She said McKay told her Thursday that he was a finalist. “And when you have a chance like that you have to step up.”
Suffolk Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) said he knew McKay was a finalist and had given him a reference by speaking to a member of the Tennessee search committee.
“I think very highly of Dr. McKay and it would be a great loss to the county if he were to leave, but it is a great opportunity for him,” Gregory said.
Should McKay get the post, Gregory said, the Suffolk college trustees would form a search committee to find a successor. “It would very big shoes to fill,” said Gregory, “But I think we would be looking for someone with independence and a vision that will keep the college moving forward.”
McKay has worked at SCCC since 2005, serving as an executive dean and executive vice president before taking the helm of the college, which has campuses in Selden, Riverhead and Brentwood, in March 2010.
Previously, McKay, who has a doctorate of letters from St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue, held administrative posts at colleges in Maryland.
The finalists for the Tennessee post were selected from among 41 applicants, according to a news release from the search committee.
Tennessee officials expect to make the selection by the end of this month and hope to have a new chancellor in place early next year, the release said.
Kevin Peterman, president of the SCCC Faculty Association, said, “We’ve always had a good relationship with him. We wish him well, but we would hate to see him go.”