Campus Visits to Take Place in Early March

(SUFFERN, NY) March 2, 2023 – Rockland Community College (RCC) began its national search for the College’s 8th President in September of last year. Since that time, the Board of Trustees, along with the Search Committee, developed a presidential profile which included key qualities and experience required in the individual who will fill the position. The search committee includes representation from the College’s various constituents including faculty, students, staff, members of the community, and alumni.

The field of candidates has been narrowed to four finalists who have already been through a series of interviews. The finalists will visit the campus in early March and have an opportunity to meet in person with the Board and committee members, as well as tour the campus and speak with staff, faculty and students through a series of town hall forums.

Members of the public may submit their questions to be posed to the candidates by utilizing this form

After the March campus visits and a review of the College and community feedback, the committee will select the individual who best meets the needs of the College. All individuals considered for the position have undergone careful review, reference checks, as well as internet and social media searches.

The Board is working closely with representatives from the State University of New York to ensure compliance with established best practices for presidential selection at community colleges. Their guidance will ensure that the College adheres to the highest standards in executing the search and transition.

“The Presidential Search Advisory Committee has done a fantastic job over the past several months, identifying the final highly qualified candidates,” said Joseph Rand, Vice Chair of the RCC Board of Trustees and current Chair of the presidential search committee. “We look forward to welcoming the finalists to the campus as we take these final crucial steps toward naming the College’s next president.”

Rockland Community College has identified the following four finalists for consideration as the College’s new president:

Viviana Abreu-Hernández, Ph.D. is the Vice President of External Affairs at Quinsigamond Community College (QCC) in Worcester, Massachusetts. She is on the Board of Directors of the Worcester Public Library Foundation and is Co-chair of the YWCA’s Tribute to Women Planning Committee. She is also an active member of the Higher Education Consortium of Central Massachusetts, the Latino Empowerment and Organizing Network (LEON), The Forum, and PEAS (Pursuit of Equity Accountability and Success, Latinx Students in Massachusetts Schools). Previously Dr. Abreu-Hernández was the Director of Research and Program Development for the 1199SEIU League Training and Upgrading Fund in New York City, the largest healthcare workforce development organization in the United States. She also served as Puerto Rico’s Commissioner of Higher Education where she developed and implemented the first comprehensive higher education public policy for the Commonwealth. She has also taught courses in Political Science, International Relations, and International Political Economy at the University of Puerto Rico and Purdue University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Puerto Rico and earned a Master’s Degree and a Ph.D. in Political Science at Purdue University.

David Potash, Ph.D., is president of Wilbur Wright College, an independently accredited open access community college with two campuses in the City Colleges of Chicago system. Growing up in northern New Jersey, Potash traveled to Texas for a BA at Rice University. He returned to the NY/NJ metropolitan area to start his academic career at NYU, where he earned an MA in History while working full-time. He earned a PhD in history from Cambridge University before joining Baruch College, CUNY, where, as Associate Provost, he played a major role in the college’s transformation. A similar position at Hunter College, CUNY, followed, and then served outside of Boston as Curry College’s first Chief Academic Officer. Opportunity, access, equity and quality have been the consistent values driving his career. His current affiliations include board membership for Campus Compact, Community College Presidents for Democracy, Presidents for Latino Student Success, Rice University’s Teaching and Learning Center advisory board, GetSet advisory board, and the Portage Park Chamber of Commerce.

Lester Edgardo Sandres Rápalo, Ed.D., MBA, MA, is currently the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Bronx Community College, City University of New York (CUNY). He has over 25 years of experience bringing together multiple stakeholders for a common goal to provide and make accessible quality education to all members of the community. At Bronx Community College, Dr. Rápalo facilitated the College’s win of the prestigious Innovations in American Government Award from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. While serving as Provost at Union County College in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Dr. Rápalo was awarded a Resolution by the Union County Freeholders for promoting education, diversity, and inclusion for hosting the First International Concert for Peace in Elizabeth, New Jersey. During his tenure at Union County College, Dr. Rápalo was named “Ambassador of Education and Culture” by the Desfile Salvadoreño and was recognized by the United Nations Association of El Salvador for the “V Education Forum” held in Elizabeth, New Jersey in collaboration with the Desfile Salvadoreño to host a forum focused on educational opportunities for underserved communities throughout New Jersey. Dr. Rápalo is a National Community College Hispanic Council (NCCHC) fellow. He was born in Honduras and speaks Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.

Matthew Reed, Ph.D. is currently serving as Senior Executive Officer in Residency at the New Jersey Council of County Colleges. He is a seasoned college administrator, a longtime champion of equity and fairness, and a national figure in the conversations around public higher education. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Rutgers University, and has taught at Rutgers, DeVry, Kean, and the County College of Morris. He has served as a dean at DeVry and CCM, and as an academic vice president at Holyoke Community College and Brookdale Community College. He is the author of the “Confessions of a Community College Dean” blog at Inside Higher Ed, and of the book “Confessions of a Community College Administrator” (Wiley, 2013). Dr. Reed has maintained a public presence in both the profession and the community. He has spoken to graduate classes at NJCU, Ball State, Memphis State, the University of Maryland Global Campus, and Harvard. He serves on the Boards of the Monmouth Museum and the National Humanities Alliance, and has worked with groups as various as the First Lego League, the Jersey Shore Debate League, and the Agawam Techno Trot.

The final announcement of the new President is anticipated to be made in the spring.

About Rockland Community College, State University of New York
Rockland Community College (RCC), located in Suffern New York, provides purpose driven educational opportunities in a supportive, affordable, and accessible environment, empowering individuals to positively transform themselves and their communities. RCC welcomes students from diverse backgrounds who appreciate small class sizes and personal attention from a distinguished, award-winning faculty that includes Fulbright scholars and SUNY Distinguished Professors. Many graduates go on to top universities to further their education on their own or through RCCs institutional collaborations. RCC also provides career training and professional development to adult learners looking to change careers or upgrade their skills through a variety of programs and educational opportunities including workforce training, certifications, and microcredentials. Many of the programs are developed with employers in the community in high-demand industry areas to enable graduates to move into a new career upon graduation. More information can be found at