The president of Greenfield Community College has announced he will retire after 17 ½ years of service to the college and community. President Robert L. Pura told the faculty and staff that he will retire in June 2018. During his opening day remarks to GCC’s faculty and staff on August 31, Pura reflected proudly on many things that the college community has achieved since he arrived in 2000, including:
- Creating the Testing Center, Wellness Center, Advising Center, Vet Center, and the Department Studios, as well as work with the Courts and the Jail, creation of the GCC Food Pantry, and development of the Senior Symposia.
- Along with Congressman John Olver, becoming conveners, collaborators, and leaders in developing the Creative Economy, Health Care, and Manufacturing and establishing GCC as a national leader in all things sustainable
- Experiencing extensive building renovations to the north and south wings, a new roof and weatherization of the East Building, and creation of the Greenhouse, the Outdoor Learning Lab, and the new Core building
- With the GCC Foundation, raising a total of $14 million, awarding 139 scholarships last spring, building the endowment to $5 million
- Changing thousands of lives for the better every single day.
Speaking to the faculty and staff, President Pura said, “You understand that all that is good and right about education is found here in your classes, in your offices, and in each of you. You make good on the promise and the hope of a quality education for all. You are truly the Ellis Island of Higher Education and you have indeed created “the balancing wheel of the social machine” one student at a time. You have given me the great honor and privilege of leading this beautiful college, working shoulder to shoulder with each of you. Thank you for all that you do and thank you for all of the ways that you have changed my life for the better. I do love you and will always love GCC. When I think about this semester, this year, and into the future—I have this overwhelming feeling of optimism.”
Robert Cohn, President of GCC’s Board of Trustees, praised Pura’s work saying, “Bob Pura has been a great gift, not only to Greenfield Community College and Greenfield, but to the entire Massachusetts Community College system. He is highly respected across the Commonwealth and the country as an outstanding leader who cares more about students and their success than any other factor. I’ve never worked with someone who is as smart, strong, funny, and successful, yet who approaches his work with no ego. I am honored to work with Bob at GCC.”
In addition to 39 years’ experience as a teacher and administrator in the Massachusetts Community College System, the past seventeen as President of Greenfield Community College, Dr. Robert L. Pura is also a proud graduate of a community college. As the first in his family to attend college and the child of an immigrant, he understands what a community college education can mean to students. “Opening the doors to higher education to all who aspire to a better life for themselves and their families while at the same time maintaining high academic standards is the noblest mission in higher education.” Pura earned his A.A. at Miami Dade Community College, Florida; B.A. at the University of South Florida; M.S. from St. Thomas University, Miami; and Ph.D. in Educational Administration from the University of Texas in Austin. He has chaired the Massachusetts President’s Council and served on its Executive Committee. He was a member of the Working Group on Assessment of Student Learning for the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education and currently serves on the Commission on Academic Student and Community Development for the American Association of Community Colleges. He sits on the Baystate Health Board of Directors and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Higher Education Commission.
President Pura outlined the process for the search for a new president to faculty and staff. The process will take a year, ads will be published by the end of 2017, and there will be a GCC Board-led campus-wide committee and search. The GCC Board will vote on their choice of a new president and then that choice will be sent to the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education for approval. President Pura said that he will not be involved in the search, but will respond to any questions asked by the committee, GCC’s Board, or the MA Department of Higher Education.
President Pura assured the faculty and staff he will stay active and engaged during the year. He said, “the person privileged enough to serve as the next President of GCC will have the extraordinary opportunity to work with each of you and to build on all of their successes.”
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