LIMA — Debra McCurdy, president of Rhodes State College, leaves the Lima campus this week as she transitions into a new job with Baltimore City Community College in Baltimore, Maryland. She served 12 years as the Rhodes State College president.
At a news conference Wednesday, board president Dr. Wilfred Ellis announced that Cynthia Spiers will serve as interim president until a permanent one is appointed.
She was the special assistant to the president at Rhodes. She previously served as the vice president of student affairs and as director of institutional effectiveness and planning.
“I came back to help with the Higher Learning Commission (visit in March), and I came back on a temporary basis, got hired permanently as a special assistant, and then she (McCurdy) made her announcement (to leave in October),” Spiers said.
She would not comment if she is seeking the job on a permanent basis.
“I’m actively pursuing my next phase. How about that?” she said.
Ellis said last month the college had begun advertising its president’s position in higher education journals. The college is also in the midst of work for its planned Center for Health Science and Education and Innovation in downtown Lima.
As for the challenges facing Rhodes State College, Spiers says it’s similar to what all campuses face.
“Enrollment is a challenge for all community colleges,” she said. “We need to find new, innovative ways to deliver programs. There’s a whole big cohort of College Credit Plus students who are seeking to get an education before they graduate from high school, and so because they’re already taking courses, we have to shift how we deliver and what we offer so students can transition. Many of them want to go on to a four-year degree, and so we’re trying to look for some ways to help them make that transition, develop some pathways for those students.”
McCurdy’s last official day on the job was Wednesday, but she expected to come in for a while Thursday to tie up some loose ends and finish cleaning out her office.
“We’ve come through our accreditation visit, which is our big review, and we’ve done very well, in that was the whole point to stay through that,” McCurdy said. “I think the college is going to be very pleased at the results, and we’ve done well. It’s a good moment for the transition when you can transition the college to someone, and you’ve just come through a big review. The review is likely going to be positive, and that makes all of the difference in the world.”
McCurdy is confident Spiers can handle the role of interim president.
“I’ve worked with her before, so it’s a good choice for the college,” McCurdy said. “She understands the college, and she’ll be able to move some things along and keep things going without gaps. It will be a good moment for the college, as well, as they transition and look at the full review for president.”
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.