Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2020

VCCS college presidents met during the system’s Hire Education Conference in early December.  Seated (l. to r.) Ted Raspiller-JTCC, Marcia Conston-TCC, John Downey-BRCC, Kimberly Blosser-LFCC, VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois, Tommy Wright-SWCC, Jacqualine Gill Powell-DCC, Pat Huber-NRCC, Shannon Kennedy-RCC. Standing (l. to r.) Frank Friedman-PVCC, Gregory DeCinque-Interim TNCC, Paula Pando-JSRCC, Janet Gullickson-GCC, James Shaeffer-ESCC, Robert Sandel-VWCC, Dean Sprinkle-WCC, John Rainone-DSLCC, Daniel Lufkin-PDCCC, Quentin Johnson-SVCC, Charlie White-Interim VHCC, Angeline Godwin-PHCC, Adam Hutchison-VHCC, Kris Westover-MECC. Not pictured: Anne Kress-NVCC


Normally, the VCCS hires two or three new college presidents per year, but in 2019, college leaders from the baby boom were retiring, so the year brought in an extraordinary new generation of presidents.

Seven new college presidents were recruited and hired after national searches: Jacqueline Gill Powell-Danville; Quentin Johnson-Southside Virginia; Shannon Kennedy-Rappahannock; and James Shaeffer-Eastern Shore. Three new presidents selected in the fall assumed their duties January 1: Anne Kress- Northern Virginia; Adam Hutchison-Virginia Highlands; and Marcia Conston-Tidewater.

“We’ve worked deliberately to install leaders who more closely resemble the populations of our students and the communities we serve across an increasingly diverse Virginia,” said VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois, who led the presidential selection process.

“The impact of seeing women and people of color in the top roles is immense and speaks volumes to our students and to the community as a whole,” said Carla Kimbrough, VCCS diversity officer and diversity and strategic recruitment manager. “As the chancellor has noted, we serve a racially and ethnically diverse student body, so when our students – of all races – see these presidents, the vision of what’s possible changes in an instant. For the community at large, with each woman we hire, with each person of color we hire, we begin to redefine what leaders look like. These seven presidents will join our other fine presidents in making sure that all students – regardless of their backgrounds – will finish what they start. The growing diversity in our presidential ranks is great news.”

With all of the new presidents on board, 10 of the 23 VCCS college presidents are women; three are African-American and one is Latinx. The pace of hiring diverse college leaders has picked up in recent years; eight of 12 college presidents hired since 2017 were women, and four were persons of color.

With John Dever’s retirement in December, the search is beginning this year for a new permanent president at Thomas Nelson Community College. Gregory DeCinque is serving at TNCC’s interim president.'

Jim Babb

Jim Babb works for Virginia's Community Colleges in the Office of Strategic Communications.

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