Outgoing Farmingdale State College President W. Hubert Keen was named the new leader of Nassau Community College, which has struggled for four years to find a replacement for its previous top official.
The State University of New York confirmed Thursday that the 71-year-old educator will resume leadership of NCC, the state’s largest single-campus two-year school boasting 22,000 students on its 225-acre East Garden City campus, beginning Aug. 1, shortly before the start of the 2016 fall semester. He will earn $225,000 annually.
“While this opportunity is not one I anticipated, it is one I am pleased to embrace, and am honored to be entrusted with NCC’s leadership,” Keen said.
Keen is NCC’s first permanent president since Donald Astrab resigned in 2012 following a contentious two-year stint that included two votes of no confidence from college faculty. Several interim presidents led NCC amid the Board of Trustee’s search for a successor.
During that search, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education reportedly warned NCC this spring that it needs to improve its standards to maintain its accreditation. The Nassau County Comptroller’s office issued a report in 2014 finding the graduation and transfer rate at NCC dropped by more than a third from 2009 to 2012. And the college faced accusations that it was turned into a political patronage mill when it hired former Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray in December after she became unemployed amid a losing bid for higher office.
Officials expressed hope that Keen, who is stepping down from Farmingdale next month after serving as its president for nine years, will turn the school around.
“I have every confidence that Dr. Keen’s leadership of Nassau Community College will serve as an important and impactful turning point for the campus, one that will greatly benefit NCC’s students, faculty and staff,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher.
Jorge Gardyn, Chair of the Nassau Community College Board of Trustees, echoed the sentiments.
“The Board is excited about working with our next president,” Gardyn said. “We look forward to a new era of growth and advancement.”