FMCC extends acting president contract

JOHNSTOWN — The Fulton-Montgomery Community College Board of Trustees on Thursday approved a resolution extending the appointment of Acting President Gregory Truckenmiller as the search for a new college president faces delays related to the coronavirus.

The board appointed Truckenmiller acting president effective Aug. 1, 2019 following the retirement of former President Dustin Swanger. The search for a new president was supposed to be conducted this spring with a permanent appointment expected to be installed ahead of the upcoming fall semester.

Board Chair Ryan Weitz on Thursday reported that the presidential search process has faced delays related to the coronavirus and on the recommendation of SUNY introduced a resolution to extend Truckenmiller’s appointment as acting president through Aug. 1, 2021 or “until such time as a new president is appointed.”

The board approved the resolution during the meeting that was conducted via teleconference while the campus remains closed to all non-essential personnel.

Weitz on Friday expressed confidence in Truckenmiller’s ability to continue leading the institution until the search process required of SUNY schools by the organization can be concluded. He also said the extension of Truckenmiller’s appointment will ensure continuity as the college continues to navigate the shift to entirely remote instruction necessitated by the coronavirus among all schools in the state.

“We are fully comfortable with the current situation with having Dr. Truckenmiller as acting president. Greg’s been with the college for a very long time and knows the university in and out and he has really shown his capabilities during especially the last month and a half with all of the changes we’ve had to adapt to on the fly given the impact of the coronavirus,” said Weitz. “I think it’s going to serve the institution well to have that continuity and I think Greg can really help us through this time.”

Although he is currently leading the school, Truckenmiller will have no involvement in the search process due to his expressed intention to apply for the permanent appointment as president.

College Trustee Geoffrey Peck, also the board appointed chair of the presidential search committee, on Friday provided an update on the search up to this point, saying that the search committee had been assembled and a search firm had been contracted to assist with the process that was set to get underway when the coronavirus effectively shut down the state.

A sudden shift to entirely remote instruction midway through the spring semester required the undivided attention of FMCC faculty and staff and SUNY officials providing guidance to schools throughout the state were forced to make the transition. SUNY schools will continue to provide remote instruction for the summer semester and the organization is requiring colleges to prepare plans in case campuses are not yet permitted to reopen in the fall.

Peck said the search process is still moving forward with the search committee preparing to meet virtually with SUNY officials who will provide support throughout the search. Meetings will be conducted virtually for the time being and it is possible that initial interviews with identified candidates will also be conducted remotely depending on the timeline for the process and when restrictions related to the coronavirus are lifted.

Typically, the process for selecting a new college president culminates in a visit to the campus by each of the selected finalists for the position who participate in a town hall style meeting answering questions from students, college staff and community members. Both Peck and Weitz pointed to the campus visit as an important step and although there is uncertainty surrounding when college campuses will be able to reopen, they expressed hope that candidates would have that opportunity before any selections are made.

“I think it’s very important those take place in person on campus, it’s my hope those can occur in person,” said Weitz.

“We still anticipate finalists will visit campus and we’ll have to, when the time comes, work out how that’s done,” said Peck. “Public meetings are a requirement in the SUNY process so they do have to happen somehow and of course we wouldn’t want to hire anyone who hadn’t gotten to visit campus and gotten to know folks first.”

With efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus continuing to restrict normal activities, Peck and Weitz said the timeline for selecting the next college president is somewhat uncertain with the board committed to carefully and thoughtfully carrying out the process to select the right leader for the school.

Currently the board is eyeing the later part of the year for the selection of a finalist to advance to the SUNY Board of Trustees for final approval possibly in November or January.

“Obviously, that’s subject to change at this point,” said Weitz.

By Patricia Older

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