Nassau Community College found its sixth president in W. Hubert Keen, outgoing president of Farmingdale State College, a tested academic with 40 years of experience in higher education.
His appointment was made final Thursday at a special meeting of the State University of New York’s Board of Trustees. Their approval comes two days after the Nassau Community College board selected Keen as its choice to be president at a Tuesday night meeting.
Keen, 71, has led Farmingdale State for the past nine years and is widely credited with overseeing the institution during a period of significant enrollment growth, expansion of academic programs and nearly $200 million in campus construction and renovation.
“Hubert Keen is a seasoned higher education professional whose leadership within our university system as well as the Long Island community makes him ideally suited to serve as Nassau Community College’s next president,” said SUNY Board Chairman H. Carl McCall.
Keen’s appointment is effective Aug. 1 at an annual salary of $225,000. As new president of NCC, Keen will be expected to bring stability and an enrollment strategy to the state’s largest single-campus community college. He will be in charge of operating the 22,000-student Garden City school at a time when its accreditation is in jeopardy and enrollment is slipping.
He will be the first permanent president to take the helm at the school since the departure of Donald Astrab in 2012. Astrab was NCC president for 30 months and received two votes of no confidence by the academic senate. Thomas P. Dolan, former superintendent of the Great Neck school district, is the school’s interim president.
In an interview with Newsday on Thursday, Keen said he would draw on his proven track record of uniting various campus groups, calling the new job “a positive challenge.”
“I think we can pull together all of these constituents in the interest of advancing the college,” Keen said. “It is my goal to provide that stable leadership.”
Keen said he did not anticipate becoming president of NCC but had discussed with state officials in the past about working there as a consultant. He declined to say how many years were on the contract to which he agreed.
“We look forward to a new era of growth and advancement,” said Jorge Gardyn, chairman of the Nassau Community College Board of Trustees.
Evelyn Deluty, chairwoman of the college’s Academic Senate, which represents faculty and administrators, said the group “looks forward to working with him through the shared governance process to secure NCC’s future.”
At a well-attended board meeting on Tuesday night, NCC trustees announced they had selected a president but would not name that person, citing confidentiality agreements. The board came to the decision after spending four hours behind closed doors in executive session.
Keen announced in June 2015 that he would step down from his post at Farmingdale next month. John S. Nader, the provost of upstate SUNY Delhi will succeed Keen as the ninth president of that 8,700-student school.
Kenneth Saunders, longtime administrator at NCC, was acting president after Astrab’s departure. He led the school for three years and was a finalist in two presidential searches. The college is led by interim president Thomas P. Dolan, former superintendent of the Great Neck school district.
The college’s administration, faculty and board of trustees have been at odds over the selection of the school’s next leader ever since Astrab left.
This is the fourth time trustees voted to appoint a permanent president.
The lack of stable leadership at the college, its dropping enrollment and various political interventions have put the college’s accreditation in danger.
In March, an auditing team from the nongovernmental Middle States Commission on Higher Education found the school was out of compliance in seven of 14 categories needed for its accreditation to be in good standing.
The Philadelphia-based commission is expected to decide June 23 how best to sanction NCC.
W. Hubert Keen
Title: President, Farmingdale State College
- Provost, vice president for academic affairs
- Special assistant to the SUNY provost, 1999 to 2005
- Previously held positions as interim president at SUNY Old Westbury, and provost and vice president for academic affairs at CUNY’s York College
- Professor and dean of arts and sciences at SUNY Cortland
Degrees: Doctorate in ecology from Kent State University