By Benjamin Joe
Niagara County Community College’s search for a president is finished, according to board of trustees Chairman Bill Ross. The trustees, having interviewed four finalists for the position and chosen the applicant most suited, are sworn to confidentiality on the subject, but have sent their chosen applicant to the SUNY Board of Trustees and SUNY chancellor for approval.
Ross said this is the second time the NCCC presidential search committee, of which he was a member, had to select eight finalists to be chosen from by NCCC’s board of trustees in two years.
“We only had eight trustees at that point,” Ross said of the first search for a president in 2017. “In order to appoint a president, you have to have six votes. That’s mandatory.”
Ross said the trustees could not get those six votes and the search failed.
“So, we had to start all over again,” he said.
The process started again and the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) had to find another 50 qualified applicants for the presidential search committee. The trustees chose ACCT after reviewing 12 other firms.
“The search committee, put together by the board of trustees, was 17 people to include faculty members; to include community members; to include three (from the) board of trustees; to include a county legislator; to include NCCC support staff; to include a member of our housing authority for our dorm; and a student representative,” Ross said.
The committee’s job was to look at the 50 applicants and interview the best eight. From these, four were chosen and sent to the board of trustees.
While this happened, SUNY Senior Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges Joanna Duncan-Poitier sent three candidates to the board from which Dr. William Murabito was chosen from and installed as interim president of NCCC in September 2017.
“He enjoyed this status before as an interim president at five different colleges … over 45 years of SUNY experience,” Ross said. “He came in there knowing his ABCs and what to do. Of course, he made an immediate impact … he brought everybody together. One of the things he did push for, there was a lot of contract negotiations. He pulled together a contract for the faculty; it was approved. He felt that was one way to raise morale at Niagara County Community College.”
During the 2017 presidential search, Murabito refrained from applying for the position. However, this fall he did try for the spot and was one of the finalists.
The other finalists, included Julia Ingersoll, an executive vice president at Harcum College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania; Denise King, vice president for academic affairs at Cleveland State Community College in Cleveland, Tennessee; and Johnny Moore, president of Pierpont Community and technical College in Fairmont, Wyoming.
Ross has been connected to NCCC for 40 years.
“It’s a jewel of Niagara,” he said. ”It’s a manmade jewel of Niagara. To me as a scholastic educator, it gives kids a second chance.”
The final candidate will meet with the SUNY Board of Trustees on Nov. 20. This person will be installed as president in 2020, if approved.