William F. Messner, president of Holyoke Community College, will retire at the end of July, he announced today at the monthly meeting of HCC's Board of Trustees.
Messner, 70, will end his 12-year tenure at the institution on July 31. He is only the third president of HCC and has served the college since August 2004, succeeding David M. Bartley.
This morning, after the meeting, Messner released the following statement to the HCC community:
"After 30 years as a college president, I've determined it is time to step aside and get on with the next phase of my life. This summer my wife and I will be moving to the eastern shore of Maryland to be closer to family.
"It has been an honor to serve as HCC's president for the past twelve years. This is a fine institution with a proud history, a deeply committed faculty and staff and a critical mission to provide high quality education to the region. I have enjoyed working with faculty, staff, students and community members during my tenure, and much appreciate all of your support and counsel. Please know that in my remaining time as president I will be focused on moving the institution forward as best I can."
During his time at HCC, Messner has increased credit and non-credit programs to meet regional needs, expanded the campus to include the Kittredge Center for Business and Workforce Development, the downtown Picknelly Adult and Family Education Center, the newly opened Center for Health Education, and the recently announced Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts, to be situated in a mill building in the Innovation District of Holyoke.
Messner has also served on a number of community and regional boards while at HCC. He is the former chairman and a current board member of the United Way of Pioneer Valley. He serves on the Regional Employment Board, the Economic Development Council, the Holyoke Chamber of Commerce, the Network to End Homelessness, the Greater Springfield Visitor and Convention Bureau, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, and he is a member of the Holyoke Innovation District Kitchen Cabinet. During fiscal year 2013, he served as president of the Massachusetts Community College President's Council, and he currently serves as chair of the Massachusetts Higher Education Partnership to Advance Collaboration & Efficiency. He was also an active member of the Commission for Higher Education Financing.
"Bill has done an incredible job at the college, continually pushing to create more opportunities for the growing number of students who seek to attend HCC," said Robert Gilbert, chair of the HCC Board of Trustees. "He has made student success and retention a cornerstone of his work and has been visible both on campus and in the community. We accept his decision to retire with regret and certainly wish him much well-deserved time with his family."
Prior to coming to Holyoke, Messner served as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin Colleges for seven years, overseeing 13 campuses that are part of the University of Wisconsin system. Prior to that, he was president of Orange County Community College in New York from 1986 to 1996. Messner will conclude his presidency on July 31.
The trustees have appointed William Fogarty, the current vice president for administration and finance, as interim president. Massachusetts Department of Higher Education policy does not permit interim presidents to be candidates for the permanent position.
HCC trustee Julie Pokela, of Northampton, will lead the search committee charged with finding Messner's successor.
PHOTOS by CHRIS YURKO: (Left) President William Messner dons a chefs hat during an event announcing a state grant for the future Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts in downtown Holyoke. (Right) President William Messner, left, meets recently with new HCC trustee Steve Mitus and board of trustees chair Robert Gilbert. (Thumbnail) HCC president William Messner.