Suffolk County Community College trustees Thursday signaled their intention to name interim Executive Vice President Shaun L. McKay as the next college president by disclosing plans to enter contract talks to give him the top job at the 24,000-student school.

Board chairman Ernesto Mattace Jr. read a statement after the trustees met for about 90 minutes in closed session on the Selden campus but took no formal vote. He said the board expects a vote on the presidential contract at the Feb. 11 meeting.

In his statement, Mattace called McKay, who served as executive dean of the college's Brentwood campus from 2005 to 2009, "eminently qualified" to lead the college.

Faculty union president Ellen Schuler Mauk said, "I've worked with Shaun since he's come to the college and he's fair, thoughtful and likes to make decisions based on data, not personalties."

The board's decision to enter contract talks follows a second interview with McKay on Friday. McKay had been one of three finalists in a field of 30 applicants for the college's president, but was passed over when the two other finalists dropped out and the search reopened.

McKay, in a prepared statement, said he believes his experience has "prepared me well" for the presidential post. He added, "I am grateful for the board's confidence in me." McKay said that in his second meeting he reassured the trustees of his interest in the job and it "just resonated with them."

Mattace, in a separate interview, said, "We continued the search and continued talking to Shaun."

The trustees gave McKay a second interview when their decision to extend the search brought an angry response from the faculty assembly at the Brentwood campus and protests at last week's trustee meeting from a county lawmaker and several community groups.

Newsday later disclosed that McKay had undergone voluntary bankruptcy while working at the Community College of Baltimore County in Maryland in 2004. A subsequent search of court records showed he also filed bankruptcy in Washington, D.C., in 1991.

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