PENDLETON – Blue Mountain Community College has turned to a familiar face to hold the fort together as it seeks a new president. But Connie Green’s second term as college head will come under very different circumstances.
At a special meeting on Monday, February 22, the BMCC board of directors voted unanimously to appoint Green as interim president effective March 1.
Green will temporarily replace former President Dennis Bailey-Fougnier, who cited a recent cancer diagnosis when he abruptly resigned on February 11. Jane Hill, the board chair, said Green’s appointment would confirm BMCC’s commitment to stability during the presidential transition.
At Green, BMCC hires a veteran college administrator who served six years as president of Tillamook Bay Community College before retiring in 2017. For six months in 2018 and 2019, Green came out of retirement to serve on the board. BMCC interim chair position between Cam Preus, who left college to become director of the Oregon Community College Association, and the eventual arrival of Dennis Bailey-Fougnier.
Board member Chris Brown said Green will need to take a more active role than she did during her last stint at college, where she was expected to play a more “passive” role while college took off. identified a new president.
This time around, Brown said Green should help the board and staff with important issues like the college budget and strategic plan.
Green takes over as college director after surviving a tough 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the college to move most of its courses online, which has been followed by declining enrollments and layoffs of staff. At the same time, the BMCC was fighting to maintain its adult education program in three prisons in the state of eastern Oregon. Although the program has been saved, the new contract will likely result in further staff cuts.
Given the challenges facing the college, Kim Puzey, the longest-serving BMCC board member, worries about the institution’s existential future.
In an interview after the meeting, Puzey pointed to a declining trend in enrollments for years and a state government that may be more interested in responding to ongoing crises like COVID-19 and the resumption of wildfires instead. adequate funding for community colleges.
“The college is heading for predictable and inevitable insolvency,” he said, stressing that this was only his personal opinion rather than that of the board.
Even with his grave concerns, Puzey echoed his fellow board members in praising Green and his abilities.
“I believe she is a team builder,” he said. “She’s definitely an advocate for community colleges. And she understands the system and what we’re trying to do at Blue Mountain Community College and everyone I’ve met.
Interest in Green’s appointment among staff and students was high. During the virtual public meeting, Hill noted that the total number of attendees had increased to a maximum of 60. Most of the staff who weighed in on Green’s hiring left supportive comments in the chat.
Megan Van Pelt, president of the Associated Student Government, asked Green what she would do to live up to the college’s “students first” motto.
Green said responding to student concerns and problems should be the school’s “guiding principle”.
Overall, Green said she prefers a collaborative approach to solving the challenges facing the college, but won’t be afraid to take decisive action if the need arises.
“The goal is to reach the next president,” she said. “But you don’t want the president to learn and raise at the same time.”
Green said his task would be to help the college elevator.
“We need action, we need compassion and we need hope,” she said.