Mercer’s President, Dr. Patricia Donohue, is retiring at the end of this year after eight and a half years leading the college and 49 years as an educator. She says she is headed to Florida to spend more time with family.
In a recent interview with The VOICE Dr. Donohue said one of her central focuses during her time at Mercer was the expansion of the Trenton Campus. The entire first floor of the main building was refurbished and two new science labs were added. A new student lounge, welcome center and student activities office were also added.
Mercer also bought the building across the street, for the Fashion Design program.
Another initiative of Dr. Donohue’s was establishing the Office of the First 30. She explained to The VOICE that the program was created so that students transitioning from high school would have coaches to help them achieve success.
Dr. Donohue described one of her favorite parts of being Mercer’s president saying: “My reward every year is a graduation and shaking hands with all of those smiling students all of ages, who are thrilled to be achieving this part of their dream”.
At a speech on April 14, 2015 given in Spring into Student Success at Mercer Oaks Gina Migliaccio, an education major who plans to graduate this spring, told those in attendance, “The SGA executive board congratulates Dr. Donohue on her successful career, and wishes her the best in her retirement.”
Dr. Diane Campbell, the Executive Dean for Student Affairs added her own thoughts, saying “I think [Dr. Donohue] is a great ambassador for Mercer and I certainly wish her well as she goes about the next stages in her life”.
When asked what she thought of Dr. Donohue’s contributions as president of the college, Gianna Durso-Finley, a Professor of Sociology and Assistant Dean of American Honors told The VOICE: “Dr. Donohue has been a dynamic President for Mercer during a time of significant changes at the college. She was powerful advocate for the college, to the community, and she mentored many people within the college as well. We will miss her leadership”
When asked to describe Dr. Donohue’s legacy, John Simone, Assistant Dean of Student Services and Director of Athletics to The VOICE: “Dr. Donohue is going to have some time to enjoy her retirement and do some things. I’m sorry to see her go, she really been an excellent President, she been an excellent leader, she had great vision, and she supported the college nationally and locally.”
The person who has perhaps worked most closely with Dr. Donohue these past eight years is Diane Badessa, her Executive Assistant. She said of that experience: “I enjoyed working with Dr. Donohue…She is very involved in activities and the community for the betterment of the College and its students. After 49 years of working in education she has, as she says ‘earned the right to retire.’ I know she plans on traveling and enjoying time with her family and grandchildren, and I wish her the very best.”
As for who will be selected to be the next president of the college, the selection process is longer and more elaborate than hiring a regular staff or faculty member.
The Mercer board of trustees first had to set up a presidential search committee and hired an outside consultant agency –the Pauly Group of Springfield, Illinois– to get things organized and ensure resumes were gathered from people who would be good candidates.
The search committee included 24 people, including representatives from the faculty and faculty union, the staff, the board of trustees, the Foundation Board and community leaders and two students. The chair of the committee is the former chair of the board of trustees, Mark Matzen.
All of the members gave suggestions on the qualifications they would like the next president to have. Once that was done the search committee and consultant went through the applications of the candidates and had interviews with 8 possible future presidents. After conducting the interviews the group was narrowed down to three candidates who were announced on April 8, 2015.
The three presidential finalists are: Dr. Louis T. Manzione, Dean of the College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture at the University of Hartford in West Hartford, Conn.; Dr. Matthew Reed, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Holyoke Community College in Holyoke, Mass.; and Dr. Jianping Wang, Vice President of Academic Affairs at Ocean County Community College in Toms River, N.J.
The three finalists will come to campus to meet and interact with students, faculty and staff.
According to Pauly Group’s information on the MCCC website, once the last of the candidates has had a chance to see the campus and interact with everyone at Mercer, the committee will convene and conduct the final selection and negotiation with the successful candidate. The goal time for that to occur was this week, but since Dr. Reed won’t be coming to campus until next week, the timeline has clearly shifted.
More details about the Presidential Search and how the process work of picking the new president can be found at mccc.edu/welcome_jobs_pres.shtml
When asked what advice she has for the next president of Mercer, Dr. Donohue said she would advise him or her to: “really engage with the people who are here, learn what is going on at the school, the strength and capacity of the institution. Then set the vision for the future.”