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Eastern Gateway Community College keeps Geoghegan president

STEUBENVILLE — Eastern Gateway Community College’s board of directors took the “interim” out of Mike Geoghegan’s title Wednesday, saying he’d demonstrated clear, effective and decisive leadership during difficult times.

“Since taking on this role six months ago, Mike has positively transformed the college, and has ushered in a new era of growth, value and collaboration,” Chairman James Gasior said. “We are proud to have him continue to lead the college.”

The board voted unanimously to name Geoghegan the college’s fifth president.

“I’m very excited,” he said. “As I told the board afterwards, I’m also very humbled and honored to become the next president of Eastern Gateway Community College. It’s exciting, it’s humbling, but I’m looking forward to all the great things we can do. We’ve already done a lot, but I just feel like we’re just getting started.”

Geoghegan joined EGCC in 2017 as chief financial officer, duties he will relinquish, and was named interim president in January after the board, citing “dereliction of duty and inappropriate management practices,” terminated Jimmie Bruce after four-and-a-half years.

Though he was put on administrative leave in January, under his end-of-employment agreement Bruce officially stepped down June 30.

Geoghegan said the focus should be on the future, not what’s already happened.

“I think a lot of the issues have pretty much gone away,” he said, adding, “I’m not looking backwards.”

He might not be, but the board was more than willing to do it for him — ticking off a list of nine priorities he’d ticked off their to-do list since being named interim president in mid-January:

≤ Leading the college’s response to COVID-19 and transitioning to a fully online delivery model.

≤ Hiring a vice president of academic affairs, a position that had been vacant at the college for two years.

≤ Reinstituting internal communications opportunities, including First Fridays and weekly labor-management meetings.

≤ Creating the Office of Institutional Diversity.

≤ Establishing the EGCC Summer Guarantee, offering free college to residents of Jefferson, Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull Counties, which the board said had led to continued growth in enrollment.

≤ Coordinating the college’s preparation for a Higher Learning Commission site visit.

≤ Launching a new social work degree program.

≤ Managing the college’s budget without eliminating jobs or services, despite cuts in state funding for higher education.

≤ Securing the bond sale that financed the purchase of the Health Care Workforce Building and the Thomas Humphries Hall in Youngstown.

≤ Revitalizing the college’s marketing efforts with new partnerships, advertisements and strategies.

“There are some issues we’re still dealing with, but for the most part those are somewhat minor,” Geoghegan said after the meeting. “I think we’ve really turned the corner and have moved forward and we need to keep moving forward. That means not focusing on the past, but on the future.”

He also said as time went on, “I just started feeling much more comfortable in my role” as interim president.

“It’s something I didn’t think I would get to…in my career, but I’m embracing it and looking forward,” he said, adding his immediate goal will be to develop a new strategic plan that will carry the college through the next few years.

“I want to get right into that, so hopefully we can have that for the board in October,” he said.

He said communication is key to avoiding the mistrust that was prevalent before he took over.

“We have been laser focused on communication and transparency,” Geoghegan said “We have a labor management committee that meets weekly so that all the issues that come up are dealt with right away, before they become bigger problems.”

“I think that constant communication, that’s going to continue, he said, pointing out growing enrollment is key to their plans.

“We have to keep growing, that solves a lot of problems,” he said. “We have to become …more efficient in our operations, so we can bring more to the bottom line and reinvest those funds in new programs, faculty and staff.

“Nothing’s for certain, except we need to keep growing,” Geoghegan said. “It makes for a much happier environment.

Geoghegan came to Eastern Gateway Community College from Cincinnati State Technical and Career Center, where he also served as the chief financial officer for seven years. He also held positions with Cincinnati City Schools, Hamilton County Auditor, the CFO of Broward County in Florida and the State of Ohio’s Auditor’s Office. He received a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and a masters in business administration from the University of Cincinnati.

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