Union County College Names Three Finalists For Open Presidency

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CRANFORD – Union County College has narrowed its search for a new president to three finalists, the college announced Monday.  The college’s presidential search committee named two external candidates, Dr. Marie Gnage and Dr. Margaret McMenamin, and one internal candidate, Dr. Wallace Smith.

The board of trustees and board of governors are expected this month to announce a final selection to replace outgoing president Dr. Thomas H. Brown, following visits by each finalist to the college in April for interviews with the members of the boards and public forums with students, faculty, administration and staff, according to interim president Dr. John R. Farrell, Jr.  The new president will take office prior to the start of the fall semester.

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Dr. Marie Gnage

Gnage has been president of West Virginia University at Parkersburg for five years.  Prior to that she served as senior vice president for academic affairs at Raritan Valley Community College in North Branch.  During her tenure at West Virginia University at Parkersburg Gnage excelled in strategic planning, facility upgrades, fundraising and enrollment growth, according to the college presidential search committee’s review.

Dr. Margaret McMenamin

McMenamin is the acting president of Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, where she has served as executive vice president for five years.  She also served as vice president of academic and student affairs at Lehigh Carbon County Community College in Schnecksville, Pa.  While at Brookdale McMenamin’s accomplishments included an academic restructuring, development of an academic master plan and college-wide assessment, according to the search committee review.

Dr. Wallace Smith

Smith has been vice president for academic affairs at the college for 10 years, where he also previously served as provost for the college’s Plainfield Campus.  In his current position Smith helped secure an evaluation of outstanding for the college from the Middle States Commission of Higher Education, developed more than 20 certificate programs and 15 articulation agreements with four-year colleges and universities, and secured more than $12 million in grants, according to the committee review.

“All three candidates possess the qualities our next president will require to lead Union County College in this time of expanding diversity of both student population and academic focuses, evolving occupational demands of the community, growing competition for funding and rapidly increasing technological opportunities,” said Victor M. Richel, chairman of the college board of trustees.

The qualifications the search committee looked for when screening candidates included: academic leadership, with an emphasis on expanding the horizon of the college to meet the diverse needs of the community and foreseeing those needs in the future; administrative and fiscal experience, as well as fundraising; and the ability to manage the changing needs of students and global and societal changes.

The search committee began screening candidates in early March.  The search was coordinated by Dr. Narcisa A. Polonio, vice president for research, education and board leadership services at the Association of Community College Trustees, which the college board of trustees retained to assist in the search.

The new college president will oversee a college with an annual operational budget in 2009 of more than $70 million.  The school serves 6,300 full-time and 6,600 part-time students with a full-time faculty of 180 and an adjunct faculty of about 300.  The school operates four campuses in Union County and maintains an associate in science degree program with the Trinitas School of Nursing in Elizabeth, and Muhlenberg Harold B. and Dorothy A. Snyder Schools in Plainfield.

Brown announced his retirement as president effective the end of 2010, after 20 years with the college.  He is taking a one-year sabbatical to write a book about his tenure at the school and to establish an official college archive.  Farrell, vice president of administrative services and executive assistant to the present, was named interim president effective January 1.


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