BOARD OF REGENTS APPOINTS FIVE CAMPUS CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICERS
(HARTFORD, CT) – The Board of Regents for Higher Education (BOR) today selected five campus chief executive officers who will be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of Asnuntuck Community College (ACC), Naugatuck Valley Community College (NVCC), Norwalk Community College (NCC), Quinebaug Valley Community College (QVCC), and Tunxis Community College (TCC).
The BOR is undertaking a major reorganization of Connecticut’s community college system and plans to merge the 12, independent community colleges into a single accredited institution, known as Connecticut State Community College, by 2023.
“I am very pleased with the new CEOs who have emerged as successful candidates to lead our campuses,” said Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) Interim President Dr. Jane Gates. “Each candidate has exceptional experience and leadership ability and has demonstrated a deep commitment to equity, access, and student success. Their leadership will be critical to our campuses, particularly as we work towards one, new community college.”
“The five CEOs we name today will be integral to the success of Connecticut State Community College,” said BOR Chair Matt Fleury. “I thank the search committees for putting forward such an accomplished and hardworking group of finalists committed to higher education and student success. I am confident they will inspire those on our campuses and have a positive impact on the students we serve.”
CSCU conducted a national search for the campus CEOs. Dr. Thomas Coley, Regional President of the Shoreline-West region, chaired the search for NCC; Dr. Rob Steinmetz, Regional President of the Capitol-East region, chaired the searches for QVCC; and Dr. James Lombella, Regional President of the North-West region, chaired the searches for ACC, NVCC and TCC.
The five campus CEOs who were selected are Dr. Michelle Coach, ACC; Dr. Lisa Dresdner, NVCC; Cheryl DeVonish, J.D., NCC; Dr. Karen Hynick, QVCC; and Dr. Darryl Reome, TCC.
Dr. James Lombella, North-West Regional President said, “We are fortunate to have Dr. Michelle Coach at Asnuntuck, Dr. Lisa Dresdner at Naugatuck Valley and Dr. Darryl Reome at Tunxis. All three have experience and backgrounds that make them uniquely qualified for their positions, including teaching as well as administration experience. While leading their institutions through the uncertainty and challenges of the pandemic they have maintained a commitment to valuing the faculty voice, perspective, and experience. I look forward to working with them as we continue to work as a region and serve our students and local communities together.”
Dr. Rob Steinmetz, Capitol-East Regional President said, “I am excited that Dr. Hynick will provide leadership and direction at QVCC. Her passion for the equitable success of community college students is a centerpiece of her leadership. Her extensive community college experience includes the areas of academic affairs, strategic planning, and building relationships with K-12 and the community. I look forward to working with her as we support our students, faculty and staff at QVCC during this time of transition in our region and state.”
Dr. Thomas Coley, Regional President of the Shoreline-West said, “Our search process led to identifying a strong field of candidates and individuals with impressive leadership backgrounds. As we moved through the process it was clear that Cheryl DeVonish is the right person at the right time to be the Board of Regents’ appointment as CEO of Norwalk Community College. She has been an effective leader as interim CEO for the last two years and in several executive level positions over her six years at Norwalk. Ms. DeVonish enjoys the overwhelming support from NCC’s faculty, staff and students. Also, I am pleased that she will continue to serve as a critical member of the Shoreline West Region executive leadership team. Her appointment provides important continuity and stability that will help lead the campus and region as we move forward with efforts to meet the educational and training needs of our students and communities.”
The following individuals will begin their roles as campus CEOs on June 4, 2021.
Dr. Michelle Coach will become campus CEO of Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield. Dr. Coach serves as interim CEO of ACC, where she has overseen the campus during the COVID-19 pandemic. With a Hartford Foundation for Public Giving grant, she also worked to bring technology into four Connecticut Department of Correction facilities where ACC offers educational programs through the Second Chance Pell pilot and provided 25 new laptops to Latinx and Black students. Dr. Coach previously served as interim dean of Academic Affairs beginning in January 2017. During her tenure as a faculty member, she was a Science Coordinator and the Natural, Behavioral, and Social Science Department Chair. In 2014, she won the CSCU Excellence in Teaching awards for both the college and system. Dr. Coach has served on several CSCU committees including Guided Pathways, the Accessibility Advisory Council, Second Chance Pell Committee, and the Biology CT Transfer Articulation Pathway Committee, which she co-chaired. In 2015, she served as co-chair of a NECHE standards committee for the ACC’s 10-year report. Dr. Coach is the New England regional coordinator for Phi Theta Kappa, has received many awards from the honorary organization, and has served as a Phi Theta Kappa Faculty Scholar from 2017-2021. She holds a B.S. in Biology from Westfield State University with a certification in Elementary Education, an M.B.A. from the University of Massachusetts, an M.S. in biology from the University of St. Joseph, and an Ed.D. from NorthCentral University in Educational Leadership.
“I am extremely honored to have been selected as the CEO of Asnuntuck Community College,” said Dr. Coach. “ACC has been my home for the last 11 years, and I feel privileged to continue working with our wonderful students, employees, and community members. We have two significant transitions in process — our evolution from a mainly virtual to on-ground campus and our transformation to the Connecticut State Community College. We will effectively change and grow throughout this process while successfully meeting the needs of our students and community, and I am committed to lead our institution positively into the future. A special thank you to all who were involved with the search process. The committee members’ dedication and investment into this work was evident.”
Dr. Lisa Dresdner will become campus CEO of Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury and Danbury. She currently serves as interim CEO of NVCC, where she oversees campus day-to-day operations and has led the COVID Re-Opening Plan with her leadership team to ensure the safe opening of two campuses. Dr. Dresdner joined the Naugatuck staff in 2015 as Associate Dean of Liberal Arts/Behavioral and Social Sciences and in 2018 was selected to serve as Dean of Academic Affairs. From 2000-2015, Dr. Dresdner was professor of English at NCC where she rose through the ranks, becoming a tenured, full professor in 2007. She also served as English Department Chair, Writing Coordinator, and team leader for ePortfolio. She was also the Project Director for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Developmental Education Initiative (DEI) grant as the college’s Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, and co-founded and obtained a three-year operational grant to create the Fairfield County Women’s Center at the college, serving as its director from 2004-2005. At NVCC, she launched the International Center for the Arts in 2017 and has led the Doing Our P.A.R.T. (Paying Attention to Retention Today) initiative. Dr. Dresdner has taught literature and interdisciplinary courses, presented at national and international conferences on integrative learning, reflective practice, ePortfolios, writing centers, and literary topics, and served as a visiting team member for the New England Commission of Higher Education. Dr. Dresdner serves on the Board of Directors for the United Way of Greater Waterbury and on its Education Impact Council. She is also on the Governing Council, Executive Board, and Membership Committee of the Arts and Culture Collaborative of Waterbury. Dr. Dresdner earned a Ph.D. (English, with distinction) from Loyola University Chicago, M.A. (English) from Boise State University, and B.A. (English) from University of Utah.
“I’m delighted to have been selected as Naugatuck Valley Community College’s Chief Executive Officer,” said Dr. Dresdner. “In the six years that I’ve been part of NVCC, I’ve been consistently impressed with the ways in which faculty and staff demonstrate their shared commitment to students and their innovative approaches to solutions. I am grateful for the opportunity to lead this dynamic team through these extraordinary and challenging times.”
Cheryl DeVonish, J.D., will become campus CEO of Norwalk Community College in Norwalk. Ms. DeVonish is currently NCC’s Interim Chief Executive Officer, and since 2015, has served in many NCC leadership roles and as an adjunct faculty member. Before her 2019 appointment as interim CEO, she served as Chief Operating Officer, which included the portfolio of Dean of Administration and Director of Human Resources, and was NCC’s Chief Diversity & Equity Officer, Special Advisor to the President’s Office. As NCC interim CEO, Ms. DeVonish has promoted institutional excellence through shared leadership principles and practice and revitalized the college’s partnership with the local school district. She has led NCC through the COVID-19 pandemic and advocated for funding and grants for emergency relief and resources to NCC students. Under her leadership, NCC launched the Connecticut Students for a Dream Unafraid Educators Initiative, partnered with Fairfield Counties Community Foundation Fund for Women and Girls for the NCC’s Sister Circle initiative, and expanded NCC’s Uplift Program in support of NCC Male students of Color. She was recognized by NCC’s Student Government Association with the Campus Community Award for her commitment to NCC students. Before joining NCC, Ms. DeVonish worked as an attorney for the City of New York and served on the Department of Youth and Community Development Advisory Board and remains a champion of issues of equity and social justice. She was a volunteer for the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center, member of Stamford Cradle to Career Transition to High School work group, and Urban Assembly Mentor. Ms. DeVonish currently serves on the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce, Family & Children’s Agency, Norwalk Acts, and Horizons@NCC. She earned a B.A. in psychology at SUNY Binghamton, and a Juris Doctorate from Albany Law School. Ms. DeVonish has been admitted to practice law in New York and Connecticut.
“I am honored to have been selected as CEO at Norwalk Community College,” said Ms.
Dr. Karen Hynick will become campus CEO of Quinebaug Valley Community College in Danielson on July 2, 2021. Dr. Hynick has served as Vice President of Academic Affairs at North Shore Community College (NSCC) in Danvers, Mass. since 2014. During her tenure, she has led the college’s development of its Master Academic Plan, Two Year Schedule Process, Guided Pathways Implementation, and Early College with Lynn Public Schools. She co-led many aspects of the college’s successful reaccreditation process with NECHE and was instrumental in helping acquire the college’s largest philanthropic grant of almost $2 million to support the Bertolon Simulation Health Center. She also played a pivotal role in the college’s Title III grant application and implementation of “Pathways to Success,” for new technologies in support of student academic planning and student success indicators through EAB Navigate. She also co-chaired the Dual and Concurrent Enrollment Advisory Team for the Department of Higher Education. Before NSCC, she was the Chancellor’s Fellow at the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities assisting in “Charting the Future,” a system-wide strategic framework. Simultaneously, she served as the System Director for P-20 for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, reforming developmental education and expanding early college and dual enrollment programs throughout Minnesota. Dr. Hynick also spent six years as Dean of Academic Affairs and Student Support at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Dr. Hynick earned a B.A. at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, a Master of Education at Worcester State University, and an Ed.D. in Educational Administration at Bethel University, St. Paul, Minn. She also serves on the board of the Lynn Community Health Center.
“I am deeply honored and excited to be selected as the new campus CEO of Quinebaug Valley Community College,” said Dr. Hynick. “I look forward to working with the exceptional QVCC students, faculty, and staff to continue our work supporting access, student success, rigorous academic programs aligned to workforce and transfer needs, and improving equity and student outcomes. This is a transformational time for our college and the state as we navigate the COVID pandemic and its aftermath and as we move towards the one college concept of Connecticut State Community College in order to better leverage resources in order to support our students’ needs. I am confident in the vision of our collective future and the ability to work together to fulfill our mission to our students and our community and am excited to be part of the team.”
Dr. Darryl Reome will become campus CEO of Tunxis Community College in Farmington and has served as interim campus CEO of TCC since 2019. During his career, he has built a unique background in both student and academic affairs. Since 2005, Dr. Reome has held several leadership positions within the CSCU System, including director of Admissions at Middlesex Community College and associate dean of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at Northwestern Connecticut Community College. At TCC, Dr. Reome served as interim dean of Student Affairs. His work with numerous student groups, including student veterans and Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) honors students, resulted in the creation of the college’s student ambassador program. He recently received the prestigious PTK Paragon Award for New Presidents. Dr. Reome also created an online early alert referral system for faculty that allowed support for students likely to withdraw from or fail their classes. Dr. Reome also served as the acting dean of Academic Affairs, collaborating with faculty and staff to manage the development of academic programs, ensuring students had a high-quality educational experience. As the director of Advising, Counseling, and Student Retention, he led student success programming, and organized the development and implementation of academic success platforms that improved student retention and graduation rates. As an adjunct professor, Dr. Reome taught First-Year Experience, humanities, and social science courses. Dr. Reome has also served on the CSCU Guided Pathways recruitment architecture subgroup and chair of the dean of Student Affairs Council. He was selected as summer fellow in Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College Professional Institute for Senior Academic & Enrollment Services Professionals. A Connecticut native and first-generation college student, he earned a B.S. at Sacred Heart University, a master’s degree from Central Connecticut State University, and doctorate in educational leadership and higher education administration from Johnson & Wales University. His dissertation examined factors that support college degree attainment for first-generation community college students.
“I am honored to be selected as the Campus Chief Executive Officer of Tunxis Community College. I want to thank the Board of Regents, Dr. Gates, Dr. Lombella, and the entire campus for the opportunity to serve the institution and community in this capacity,” said Dr. Reome.