SARANAC LAKE Gail Rogers Rice, Ph. D., has decided to step out on a high note. The North Country Community College (NCCC) President has announced her intent to step down on July 1, 2008, in a letter to John Friedlander, NCCC board of trustees chairman. I believe the college is in a very good position and is poised to successfully meet the challenges and changes to come, Rice said in the letter. Because of the positive nature of current conditions, it is a good time for me to advise that I wish to retire. Officials laud Rices leaderships
Rice was inaugurated NCCC president Nov. 21, 1992. She is the colleges first woman president. She served as dean of academic and student affairs at NCCC from 1985 until her appointment as president. Before that she was a professor of social sciences and developmental studies. She was one of the hardest working, best presidents a college could have - she understood the college and needs of the students and that was her priority, said Friedlander. NCCCs main campus is located in Saranac Lake, with branch campuses in Ticonderoga and Malone. Local officials credit Rices leadership with building two new branch campuses, and laying the groundwork for improvements in Saranac Lake. Rice led the move to construct a NCCC campus in Ticonderoga after several years of holding classes in various storefronts. The $3 million facility opened in the fall of 2005 and Ticonderoga enrollment immediately jumped. Ticonderoga Supervisor Bob Dedrick said Rice was an excellent partner with local officials. Dr. Rice and I labored for weeks over the new location for NCCC, Dedrick said. We agreed that the storefronts downtown were unacceptable. Finding a suitable piece of property was paramount. It was Dr. Rices persistence and dedication that led to the present site of the college. I, as supervisor, the town board and the community at large are eternally grateful for her commitment and perseverance in locating such an exquisite building in the heart of downtown Ticonderoga, he said. NCCC, as a community college serving two counties, receives $2.2 million of its roughly $12.4 million annual budget from Essex and Franklin counties. Essex County Board of Supervisors Chairman Noel Merrihew III agreed that the satellite development has been a boon for residents. Despite occasional public wrangling over the colleges budget with county officials, Rice earned their respect. She's always been a pleasure to work with, always been accessible, said Merrihew. She was a very committed professional who put a lot of herself into the job, not just on campus but outside as well. Rice looking to enjoy family, leisure
Rice said she felt the time was right to leave. Things are going very, very well at the college, and I'm happy and healthy, and it seemed to be a time that is appropriate to move on. It's a high point for the college, it's a high point for me, and it's time for me, said Rice. She said she was looking forward to truly retiring so she could spend more time with her daughters and grandsons, and catch up on her reading. A native of Saranac Lake, she plans to remain in the town although she hopes to do some traveling. She added she would like to spend time getting involved in community service. Im from here, and I have a lot of interests I hope I can contribute to, said Rice. Along with spear-hearing the construction of the branch campuses, Rice said she felt that shed overseen curriculum expansions and offering more opportunities for students. It's very student centered community college - I was not the one who did all the work, but I think the fact we've been able to work together has made it more student centered in a responsible way, said Rice. New leader to be sought
Friedlander said college trustees would need to start a search for a new president. The matter will be discussed at a meeting on Dec. 18. We have to do a search, and the board has to decide whether to go with an interim head, said Friedlander. Rice said her successor would face the challenges that are prevalent for all community colleges. Balancing finances and working with numerous state entities while fund-raising is the new status quo for public college presidents. The biggest challenge for the next NCCC president will be focusing on improving the Saranac Lake campus so students have top-drawer facilities. The president will also need to continue to build community relations. Its always good to retire when things are in good place. There's never going to be a time here when there isnt some major project. The Saranac Lake campus is moving along well, said Rice. Rice said the achievements accomplished under her administration were due to support from staff, board and local officials. Thank you, everyone, for all of the support and all the years of interesting work, friendship and laughter. Ive been blessed, said Rice.