A finalist for the presidency of Erie Community College said the college should rethink its relationship with Niagara County Community College, and consider the possibility of a merger of the two institutions.
"I think it's time to take a fresh look. I don't know what that's going to result in. But they don't have a president right now. You're getting a new one and they don't have one at all, which means if you ever wanted to make a change, this is the time to make a change," said Matthew Reed, vice president of Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, N.J. "The iron has never been hotter. This is the time to strike."
Reed's comments echoed sentiments expressed earlier in the week by Joel A. Giambra, the former Erie County executive.
Giambra wrote to State University of New York board of trustees Chairman H. Carl McCall, urging him to push for a consolidation of the community college campuses in Erie and Niagara counties. Giambra said presidential transitions at the two colleges presented a rare opportunity to pursue a merger.
Reed made his remarks to about 65 people during an hourlong public forum Friday in the Gillette Auditorium of ECC's downtown campus.
Reed is one of four finalists to succeed Jack F. Quinn Jr. as 11th president of ECC. He was the second candidate to give a presentation and answer questions from the public.
The first candidate, George W. Swan III, former vice chancellor of the Wayne County Community College District in Detroit, addressed about 100 people Wednesday in a lecture hall at ECC's Amherst campus.
On Monday, Dan Hocoy, who is associate vice chancellor for advancement in the Antioch University System in Seattle, will give a public presentation at ECC's Orchard Park campus.
The final candidate's presentation will be on Tuesday at the Amherst campus. That candidate's name will be announced on Monday. The ECC board is scheduled to meet Wednesday morning to select a new president.
Reed grew up in Brockport and is a graduate of Fairport High School in Monroe County and Williams College. He earned a doctorate in political science from Rutgers University and held administrative posts at County College of Morris in Randolph, N.J., and at Holyoke Community College in Massachusetts prior to becoming vice president for learning at Brookdale in 2015.
He briefly addressed the ECC and NCCC relationship as part of a discussion about changes he would likely push, if he were named ECC president.
"What I have in mind there is anything from a division of labor to a possible merger," he said.
Other changes he suggested were:
* implementing mandatory orientation for all new students at the college;
* changing from a 15-week semester to a 7- or 8-week semester;
* expanding the use of open educational resources, including open textbooks, and open courseware to improve teaching and learning and open greater access to higher education;
* creating a scholarship program for internships;
* no longer allowing students to register for classes after a semester already has started.