You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Interim president Judith Gay: Honored to play role in start of Erie County Community College

Erie Times-News logo Erie Times-News 1/21/2021 Matthew Rink, Erie Times-News
a woman smiling for the camera: Judith Gay, vice president and chief of staff for the Community College of Philadelphia, was hired Jan. 20, 2021, as the interim president for the Erie County Community College. © CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Judith Gay, vice president and chief of staff for the Community College of Philadelphia, was hired Jan. 20, 2021, as the interim president for the Erie County Community College.

Erie County Community College board chairman Ron DiNicola said that Judith Gay, whom the board hired Wednesday evening to serve as the college's first interim president, gives the new institution "instant credibility across the commonwealth."

"We're very, very lucky to have her," DiNicola said Thursday morning.

Gay, the vice president for strategic initiatives and chief of staff for the Community College of Philadelphia, will serve as interim president until the board can conclude its search for a permanent president.

"Today we take an important step in meeting the high expectations of our local leaders and our community," DiNicola said during a video conference with community college board members, Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper and the media Thursday. "Our board discerned rather early on that if we are to succeed we must draw upon the best minds that the community college movement in the United States can provide."

DiNicola then introduced Gay, saying she is an "extraordinary talent" who brings to Erie "a lot of experience, high achievement, and above all, a passionate commitment to the power of community colleges."

"It's such an exciting opportunity," Gay said, "and it's such an honor to be asked to play a role in it."

Gay will be paid $9,700 a month, but she will not receive benefits like health insurance.

Gay's contract has no set length. It requires both sides to provide 30 days notice to one another before it is terminated. Gay said Thursday that it is her intent to serve as interim president until the board can conclude its search for a permanent one.

Her first day on the job is Feb. 1.

Gay had previously planned to retire from the Community College of Philadelphia on Jan. 29. She said she doesn't plan to apply for the permanent presidential post.

Gay identified three reasons for her interest in the interim presidency.

"I am passionately committed to education, and particularly to community college education," said Gay. "Community colleges were started to provide affordable, quality education, to provide access, to democratize education for people who couldn't afford to go away to school and had to stay in their own communities and needed higher education.

"That's why community colleges were started," she continued. "And that's what I believe in —  the importance that it's meant to me in terms of my own education and also to others. I want other people's children to have what I was able to have."

She also said she is impressed by the diverse board of trustees for the Erie County Community College and how its members have found a "common vision and a common goal."

Another reason she cited for her interest in the job stems from something she learned recently: The founding president of the Community College of Philadelphia, Allen T. Bonnell, Ph.D., was an Erie native.

"I feel like Philadelphia owes you a payback in Erie," she said.

Gay's priorities will be to position the Erie County Community College to seat its first class in the fall and steer it toward the accreditation process, she said. 

"It's to make sure that this momentum that the board and the county have demonstrated can keep moving forward," she said.

Dahlkemper, addressing Gay, commended the board for finding "a candidate of your quality and qualifications and enthusiasm and passion."

Before becoming vice president of strategic initiatives and chief of staff at the Community College of Philadelphia, Gay served as vice president of academic affairs from 2000 to 2013 and from 2014 to 2015. She served as interim president between 2013 and 2014.

Gay worked with faculty, administrators and staff to create the college’s first academic master plan. She also developed the first proficiency certificates for stackable credentials; revised general education requirements; expanded online learning; increased articulation agreements, according to a press release.

Prior to her time at the Community College of Philadelphia, Gay worked as a division chair for the Montgomery County Community College, which is also part of the commonwealth's system of public community colleges. 

She was a faculty member at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia from 1980 to 1996, according to her LinkedIn profile and other websites. 

She received a bachelor's degree in psychology from Findlay College and a doctoral degree in experimental psychology from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. 

In 2018, she co-authored the book, "Up and Running: Starting and Growing a Leadership Program at a Community College."

The board voted unanimously to hire Gay. 

Board members appeared exuberant while casting their votes for Gay's contract. Rev. Charles Mock, when called to vote, responded by saying, "Yes, on steroids."

"We stand on the verge of a major milestone in the progression of our work, in the solidarity of this body, and in the hopes for our community college," said another board member, Cheryl Rush Dix.

Rush Dix later said that the hiring of Gay shows that "this is a team that can come together and has proven that in unanimity and in enthusiastic approval of the contract that we are about to ratify and in the relationship we are about to inaugurate."

Contact Matthew Rink at mrink@timesnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ETNrink.

This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: Interim president Judith Gay: Honored to play role in start of Erie County Community College

AdChoices

More from Erie Times-News

AdChoices
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon