Monroe Community College has appointed the recently retired president of SUNY Corning Community College as its interim president while it conducts a national presidential search.
Katherine Douglas, whose 40-year career has included community colleges in three states, will begin her job on Monday and is expected to serve for 12 to 18 months, the college said, while the search is conducted.
Douglas steps into the seat vacated in December by Anne Kress, who took a job at Northern Virginia Community College after 10 years as MCC’s president.
“As a seasoned educator and leader in higher education, Dr. Douglas is uniquely suited to lead MCC as interim president. Her commitment to the community college mission and her familiarity with the Western New York/Finger Lakes region will be an asset to MCC,” said Barbara P. Lovenheim, chairwoman of the MCC Board of Trustees, in a news release.
Douglas said in the same release: “The great respect I hold for MCC is based on my previous years of SUNY leadership and service, at which time I have witnessed the numerous successes and innovations led by MCC faculty and staff.”
Douglas retired from Corning in June after eight years as president there. Previously she was vice president of academic affairs at Sussex County Community College in New Jersey. She began her career on the faculty of Greenfield Community College, where she worked for 27 years, and was dean of social sciences at Holyoke Community College, both in Western Massachusetts.
Douglas earned three degrees from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her doctorate and master’s degrees are in education, and her bachelor’s degree is in leisure studies and services/outdoor education.
Anne M. Kress, president of Monroe Community College since 2009, has been hired to be the next president of Northern Virginia Community College.
An announcement at Northern Virginia, known as NOVA, said Kress would assume her new duties at the beginning of 2020. She will be the college’s sixth permanent president. The college has 75,000 students and six campuses, making it one of the largest community colleges in the nation.
“Dr. Kress’s proven leadership and commitment to student success align perfectly with NOVA’s strategic priorities,” said Rick Pearson, chair of the Northern Virginia Community College Local Board. “Her dedication and experience cultivating community partnerships will prove invaluable at addressing the workforce challenges facing our region. This makes her the perfect fit for NOVA.”
In a statement released by MCC, Kress said, “It has been a genuine privilege to serve as MCC’s president over the past decade, and I am honored to have been selected as the next president of Northern Virginia Community College. In the weeks ahead, I will work with MCC’s leadership team, Board of Trustees, and SUNY to assure a smooth and seamless transition. I have loved my time at MCC and in this community. My sincere appreciation goes out to every Tribune—students, faculty, staff, and alumni—for making MCC inspiring and to our generous community for supporting our students and our College.”
During Kress’ tenure, MCC has expanded its career-readiness programs and partnered with local employers to help create a trained workforce. She oversaw expansion of a downtown campus, renovating a former Eastman Kodak Co. office building into a modern college classroom building. She was also the first woman to serve as MCC’s president.
Barbara P. Lovenheim, chair of the MCC board of trustees, and a retired MCC professor, offered congratulations to Kress on her new appointment and thanks “for a decade of exemplary service.” She added, “Dr. Kress’s dedication to our mission and our students is among the reasons MCC is one of the nation’s top community colleges.”
Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo issued a statement with congratulations to Kress, adding, “Working hand-in-hand, we delivered a beautiful new Downtown Campus for our community, launched our nationally ecognized LadderzUp job training initiative, and just recently began work to build a first-of-its-kind Workforce Development Center in Monroe County. While our loss is Northern Virginia’s gain, I know the contributions that Anne made to our community during her time here will carry on for years to come.”
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said, “We all owe Anne a great debt of gratitude for her contributions to our community. She has been a good friend and partner to the City; working with us to close the skills gap and help our residents obtain jobs by providing affordable, viable training programs and serving as co-chair of Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. I wish Anne all the best as she begins the next chapter in her career.”
Kress’ relationship with faculty and staff at MCC, however, has been contentious in recent years. In November, amid mediation on a faculty labor contract, the MCC Faculty Senate and Faculty Association passed a vote of no confidence in the president. Kress dismissed the vote as a negotiating tactic. A contract was eventually ratified five months later.
Kress is married to Ned Davis, executive director of the Friends and Foundation of the Rochester Public Library. Asked about how his wife’s new job would impact his current employment, he said, “My family and I are thrilled. That’s all I can say now.” Kress and Davis have a daughter, 17, and a son, 16, who attend Brighton schools.
NOVA’s search committee selected Kress from 80 applicants and three finalists, who all visited the campus in September to meet with constituencies. She will succeed Melvyn D. Schiavelli, who became interim president in the spring.
NOVA began as Northern Virginia Technical College in 1964 and was renamed two years later. Its first campus was built in Annandale, opening in 1967, and the college added others in Manassas, Alexandria, Woodbridge, Loudon and Springfield, the last of which opened in 2003. NOVA is the largest public college in Virginia.
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