CGCC picks Dr. Marta Yera Cronin as next president

After eight months and a field of 44 applicants, Columbia Gorge Community College’s board of education Tuesday ni ght approved a contract with Dr. Marta Yera Cronin as CGCC’s next president. The decision was unanimous.

Cronin, vice president of academic affairs at Indian River State College in Florida, will become the third president since CGCC was established in 1977. During her tenure there, Indian River was twice selected as a finalist for the prestigious Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

She emerged with a strong vote of confidence from the board after extensive on-campus interviews with four well-regarded finalists.

“Marta’s combination of experience innovating new programs, working with a diverse student population, and guiding faculty professional development promise great things for CGCC,” said board chair Stu Watson. “She is assertive, creative and passionate about making CGCC a destination – for students and residents of the Gorge community.”

Led by board vice chair Lee Fairchild, a search committee involving a broad mix of Gorge residents spent days reviewing applications from across the country. They selected 10 semifinalists for on-line interviews in Februaryy.

That process helped the committee trim its list of top candidates to the final four, also including Dr. Leanne Frost, of Great Falls College-Montana State University, MT; Dr. Paul Jarrell, of Santa Barbara City College, CA., and Dr. Sara Thompson Tweedy, of SUNY Westchester, NY. Campus visits by the four finalists included meetings with faculty and staff, college leadership, the community and board of education.

“Marta brings impressive experience working with staff and faculty to improve student success,” Fairchild said.

“In the face of tight budgets, she also showed a track record of success in securing more than $12 million in grants. She loves to work with her team to leverage limited resources for new programs. We’re excited to have her talents and experience at CGCC.”

Cronin is fluent in three languages. She studied French as an undergraduate at the University of Miami, earned her master’s in reading from Barry University, Miami Shores, FL, and received a Doctorate of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Sarasota (now Argosy University-Sarasota), FL.

Before moving to Indian River, she taught French, Spanish and reading in public high schools. At Indian River, Cronin helped develop a teacher education bachelor’s degree program, helped reform math instruction, and convened 11 Florida colleges to collaborate on an $8.3 million federal grant.

She currently serves as president of the Florida Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, and was chosen as a leadership fellow to the American Association of Community Colleges National Community College Hispanic Council.

After a period of personal and professional transition, Cronin will assume her leadership role at CGCC July 1, 2018. Chief academic officer Lori Ufford continues as the college’s interim president prior to that date.

Volunteers participating in the presidential search committee represented a cross-section of college faculty, staff, students, board members and the community at large. Committee members were Supt. Candy Armstrong, Annette Byers, Dana Campbell, Martin Campos-Davis, Martha Capovilla, Danny Dehaze, Kristen Dillon, Lee Fairchild, Cyndi Gentry, Supt. Dan Goldman, Robert Kovacich, Mary Martin, Jonathon Neptune, Stephen Shwiff, Andrea Padilla Smith, Eric Studebaker and Jeanie Vieira.

At Tuesday’s special meeting of the college board, Fairchild expressed his appreciation to the search committee and college staffers who helped in the process.