Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Posted by: Kristina Moy
By Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed
Budget cuts and fussy lawmakers have helped nudge more than a few
public university presidents over to the relatively greener pastures of
private colleges. But Mark Erickson is going the other direction: he’s
leaving the presidency at a private liberal arts university to take the
helm at a community college.
This summer Erickson will move
from Wittenberg University, located in Springfield, Ohio, to
Northampton Community College, which has a main campus in Bethlehem,
Pa., and other locations in the Lehigh Valley.
Erickson’s career path is a rare one in higher education, but it's
not a stretch. That’s because the two jobs, and even the two
institutions, have plenty in common. And the similarities are growing.
Like Northampton, Wittenberg enrolls a large number of lower income
students: fully 25 percent are first-generation college students and 25
percent receive Pell Grants. And as president of a college in an area
hit hard by the recession, Erickson is deeply involved in local economic
development and job creation, which are top priorities for most
community college chiefs.
Fund-raising talent, however, hasn’t always been a must for aspiring
presidents of two-year colleges. It is at Northampton, which listed
"experience in and appreciation for the importance of fund-raising” in
its presidential job ad.
Presidents of four-year institutions spend more time on fund-raising
than any other activity. Given shrinking public support for higher
education, community college presidents may be heading that way as well.