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Nassau Community College president search narrowed to 4 finalists

Nassau Community College's presidential search committee has agreed

Nassau Community College's presidential search committee has agreed on a short list of four finalists, one of whom could become the next leader of the Garden City institution. Credit: Barry Sloan

Nassau Community College’s presidential search committee has agreed on a short list of four finalists, one of whom could become the next leader of the Garden City institution.

The two women and two men all have higher education leadership experience.

“We look forward to hearing the feedback from the campus community and interviewing the candidates,” Jorge L. Gardyn, chairman of the NCC board of trustees, said Thursday.

The 22,000-student college has been without a permanent leader for more than three years.

Kenneth Saunders, 59, the former acting president who is NCC’s current executive vice president, is among the pool of finalists for the second time.

The three other finalists are Gena Glickman, 64, president of Manchester Community College in Connecticut; Tyjaun A. Lee, 44, vice president of student services at Prince George’s Community College in Maryland; and Stephen Schoonmaker, 57, former president of College of the Ouachitas in Malvern, Arkansas.

Each is expected to visit the campus and participate in individual town-hall-style interviews next month. Trustees then would discuss and agree on one of the finalists to be approved by state officials before he or she is installed as president.

“I hope that the board of trustees will elect a candidate from the four finalists based on qualifications, not on political influence,” said Evelyn Deluty, chairwoman of the NCC Senate, which includes college faculty, students and staff.

NCC is the largest single-campus community college in the State University of New York system. Former president Donald Astrab, who made $230,000 a year, departed in July 2012 after a tempestuous 30-month tenure in which the faculty took two no-confidence votes against him.

This is the third time the college’s search committee has invited a group of finalists for campus interviews to replace him.

Thomas P. Dolan, former superintendent of Great Neck schools, has been the college’s interim president since September.

Trustees appointed him to take over for Saunders after SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher in August capped the length of time Saunders, who was making $225,000 annually, could be at the helm. College policy indicates an acting president can participate in the search, whereas an interim president could not.

Gardyn, who is not a member of the search committee, said the college’s operations have been smooth during the search.

“The fact that NCC hasn’t had a permanent president for three years has not diminished the vigor of the college,” he said.

Trustees, administrators and faculty members have since tackled issues that make it easier for students to transfer in and out of the college, and have examined entrance requirements and other factors that could improve the school’s ability to retain students and raise enrollment, Gardyn said.

Although this is the third time finalists have been brought to campus, it technically is a continuation of the second presidential search, he said.

During the first search, which began in December 2012, a group of campus leaders made allegations of bias and procedural irregularities, prompting Zimpher to deem the process “beyond the point of repair” and recommend that the college trustees start over. The chancellor’s approval is required to install a president at any of the 64 SUNY campuses.

There were three finalists in the controversial 2012 search, including state Supreme Court Justice Anthony Marano of Valley Stream.

Those who opposed Marano cited his lack of a degree in education or experience running a college. Some on campus alleged the search was tipped in his favor.

Saunders, who has worked at NCC in various administrative positions for more than 14 years, was not among three finalists selected by the first search committee.

He told Newsday in 2013 he was treated unfairly during his interview and said the committee was biased. He has always been a finalist in the second search.

The four finalists for NCC president

  • Gena Glickman, 64, is president of Manchester Community College, one of the largest of the 12 community colleges in Connecticut, serving about 15,000 students. She holds a doctorate in education, policy and planning from the University of Maryland College Park. A photograph was unavailable Thursday.
  • Tyjaun A. Lee, 44, is vice president of student services at Prince George’s Community College in Maryland, which has an enrollment of 44,000 students and is the fourth-largest multicampus institution in the state. She holds a doctorate in educational leadership from Ohio University.
  • Kenneth Saunders, 59, is executive vice president of Nassau Community College. From January 2013 to August 2015, he served as acting president of NCC, which has an enrollment of 22,000 students. He was named officer-in-charge and then interim president in August 2012, after the departure of Donald Astrab. He has been at NCC for more than 14 years.
  • Stephen Schoonmaker, 57, is former president of College of the Ouachitas in Malvern, Arkansas, a two-year college in the central part of the state serving 1,500 students. He stepped down in December 2015, citing the upcoming arrival of his first grandchild, according to local media reports.

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