By Sarah Plummer
One of two finalists in New River Community and Technical College’s national search for a president presented himself as being “uniquely qualified” for the position during Thursday’s public forum at the Ghent Advanced Technology Center.
Dr. Marshall Washington is currently the vice president of the Lancaster Campus of Harrisburg Area Community College in Pennsylvania and worked previously as the vice president of student affairs for Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, Mich.
When asked what his first action would be if elected president, Washington said he hoped to meet with thought leaders, teachers and staff across the school’s nine campuses to put together a priorities list and compare that with the school’s strategic plan.
He discussed how his experience addresses what he sees as some of New River’s top priorities — accreditation renewal, raising funds for construction of the new central campus at Beaver, and increasing student enrollment.
He explained that he has had experience ensuring schools retain their accreditation when reviewed by their accrediting bodies in addition to vast experience heading capital campaigns and raising funds.
Washington said he currently manages a $26 million budget at Harrisburg and is in the middle of raising a $1 million scholarship campaign.
In the past he has been involved in a $50 million bond process for facilities projects, he said.
“In today’s economy, we have to work harder to bring resources to the table. Thay are not coming in like they did in the past. We have to be able to go after private dollars and grants and work toward partnering with businesses and corporations,” he said.
Additionally, Washington spoke to his awareness of a growing focus on adult education and expanding outreach to under- and unemployed baby boomers looking to start or change careers.
He talked about boosting enrollment by reaching out to students who are not yet college age, getting New River’s name, mission and programs out to the next generation of students.
Washington has also had experience creating new programs.
At Kellogg he helped create a prison re-entry program for students coming out of the prison system and helping them re-enter the workforce.
He also anticipates building new partnerships with employers and corporations to help determine new workforce training needs.
“I’m excited to see what are some emerging workforce programs. Sometimes a decline in the economy gives us the chance to relook and refocus on needs that may not have been there for years, but are there now, like careers in the service industry,” he said.
Washington, who presented himself as well-spoken, confident and student-oriented, said he strongly believes in transparency in financial management and looks to departments and campuses to have their own voice.
He discussed additional ways to build stronger relationships across New River’s nine campuses.
Lastly, he said he is drawn to New River because, while they have growth substantially over the past several years, “New River has continued potential for growth.
“I’m excited about the new facilities (planned at Beaver). That allows such an amazing opportunity and will create a new face for New River. It will be a resurgence of higher education in the community, and people will recognize the added resource and educational opportunities,” he added.
Those present at the forum indicated assistance with the capital campaign to raise funds for construction of the central campus is a primary focus for the future.
Dr. Debra Teachman, vice president for academic affairs at New Mexico University in Alamogordo, is the second finalist.
Comments from the forums will be given to the New River Board of Governors for review.
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