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Viniar named Chesapeake College president

Posted on Wednesday, March 19, 2008


WYE MILLS – Dr. Barbara Viniar has accepted an appointment as Chesapeake College´s fifth president, the college´s Board of Trustees announced Wednesday morning.

Dr. Viniar currently serves as executive director for the Institute for Community College Development at Cornell University. She will become the first woman president in the regional community college´s 43-year history when she takes office on July 1st.

Dr. Viniar, who previously served as president of Berkshire (Mass.) Community College, will succeed Dr. Stuart M. Bounds as president. Dr. Bounds will retire June 30th after 11 years as president, 24 years with the college and nearly four decades of community college experience.

Dr. Viniar said she is "excited about joining a community that is so focused on the mission of the comprehensive regional community college and so committed to working together." She also recognized "the extraordinary leadership of Dr. Bounds and the very impressive legacy he has built. It´s really an honor to follow him."

The college´s 10-member Board of Trustees – two from each of the college´s five support counties – selected Dr. Viniar from among three finalists. Those finalists were recommended by a 13-member Presidential Search Advisory Committee that included faculty, staff, administration, community and business leaders, and five college trustees.

Richard Bulman, a Talbot County resident who chairs the college´s Board of Trustees, said the trustees were impressed by Dr. Viniar´s background and credentials.

"While the Presidential Search Advisory Committee submitted three exceptional candidates for consideration by the Board, the Trustees felt that Dr. Viniar´s experience and enthusiasm will provide the type of leadership best suited for the next president of Chesapeake College following Dr. Bounds´ retirement," said Bulman.

The two other finalists were Dr. Linda Thomas-Glover, provost at Elizabethtown (Ky.) Community and Technical College, and Dr. Nancy Webster Yurko, vice president of liberal arts and sciences at Florida Community College at Jacksonville. College Trustee Jim Maffitt, who chaired the Presidential Search Advisory Committee, said all three finalists "really rose to the top of the list" during the comprehensive search process.

"We had a really broad and interesting group of applications to consider," Maffitt said of the presidential candidate pool. Even so, Maffitt said Dr. Viniar was able to separate herself from the rest of the pool.

"We were impressed by the depth of her experience as a community college president, and her sense that the community college today must be looked at as both a place of higher education and as a place where you apply business principals," said Maffitt. "You want to be learning-centered and student-centered, but at the same time there are an awful lot of things about a community college that require good business judgment."

Dr. Viniar said her initial goal is to "get to know the culture of the campus and the region and build the relationships that make presidents effective." The best way to do that, according to Dr. Viniar, is to "help the people who are already there do their jobs even better."

Dr. Viniar served nine years as president of Berkshire Community College, leaving in 2003 to accept the executive directorship at the Institute for Community College Development. She led efforts that increased Berkshire´s endowment from $45,000 to $2.3 million, obtained over $17 million in new grants, and secured private and public funding for a business incubator and downtown center. She also convened an industry group leading to the formation of the Applied Technology Council and a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Dr. Viniar also founded a community leadership program while at BCC and presided over major upgrades to the college infrastructure, installation of "smart" classrooms, and conversion to a new information management system.

Dr. Viniar, who also chaired the Massachusetts Council of Community College Presidents while at BCC, occasionally clashed with Berkshire´s faculty leadership late in her tenure as president. Bulman said the Presidential Search Advisory Committee and the Board of Trustees were fully informed of the circumstances surrounding her departure from BCC in 2003.

"There was nothing revealed in the investigations by the committee or the Board that would reflect negatively on Dr. Viniar´s capability to serve as president of Chesapeake College," said Bulman.

Prior to becoming Berkshire´s president, Dr. Viniar spent 17 years at Rockland (N.Y.) Community College. She served in a variety of roles, starting as assistant director for the College of Public Service, moving up to assistant dean, associate dean and dean of instructional and community services, and finishing as vice president for institutional advancement.

While at Rockland, she chaired the college´s General Education Task Force, developed and implemented programs for adult learners, and created a comprehensive faculty development program. Dr. Viniar, who holds bachelor´s and master´s degrees in English Literature from City University of New York and an education doctorate from the Institute for Leadership Studies at Farleigh Dickinson University, has taught throughout her career. She has taught women´s studies, English composition and literature courses, and a wide range of leadership courses.

Chesapeake College faculty, staff and administrators were informed of Dr. Viniar´s selection late Wednesday morning by Bulman during a short on-campus meeting. Dr. Viniar will be on campus for the first time as president-elect next Thursday. There will be a 3 p.m. press conference at a site to be announced.

Dr. Viniar was selected after a nationwide search that drew 55 applications and nominations. The Presidential Search Advisory Committee narrowed that list to seven candidates who had off-campus interviews with the committee, which then selected three finalists for day-long interviews with all college constituencies.

The Board of Trustees, Dr. Bounds, and the college´s executive leadership team will work with Dr. Viniar to effect a smooth transition, according to Bulman.

"We expect a seamless transition that will allow Dr. Viniar to hit the ground running on July 1st," said Bulman.

Dr. Viniar said she is already anticipating her move to the Eastern Shore.

"I´m attracted to the beauty of the region and the obvious love people have for the Eastern Shore," said Dr. Viniar, who has two grown daughters and two granddaughters "who are already looking forward to visiting me."


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