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Higher Education's People Watch

Appointments, promotions, and newsmakers.
University Business, Aug 2006

Manny Aragon agreed this summer to give up his post permanently as president of New Mexico Highlands University after being placed on leave in late June. He reportedly will receive a $200,000 payment to end his contract. The Board of Regents for the Las Vegas, N.M. university have given no official reason for asking Aragon to step down, but press reports say that the board and the president disagreed over contracts for building projects and how faculty tenure cases were handled. Aragon, who was once a professional trial lawyer, was selected to lead New Mexico Highlands in 2004 even though he had no previous experience in academia. He served as a state senator for 29 years before coming to the university. Aragon's inauguration in 2004 included a golf tournament and a barbeque, but the party was quickly over when some faculty members accused him of unfair management practices. The American Association of University Professors subsequently censored him, claiming that he "made several administrative appointments that reflect his personal and professional relationships more than the demonstrated needs of Highlands University." University officials are now looking into two presidential spending accounts over which Aragon and Student Senate President Jesse Lopez reportedly had authority.

Talk about nice parting gifts-Miami Dade College President Eduardo Padr?n, 61, retired in May, only to be called back to run the Florida community college in July. His brief respite allowed him to legally collect an $893,000 retirement sum from the college, which is part of the state's higher education system. Such payments are allowed in the Florida system, but the college's Board of Trustees had to give the OK. It did, along with offering Padr?n a new, three-year contact valued at $407,229 in annual pay. Padr?n has been the president of MDC, formerly known as Miami Dade Community College, since 1995.

The Alabama Board of Education fired Chancellor Roy Johnson in mid-July. Johnson had led the state's two-year college system since 2002. Several board members had questioned his leadership repeatedly and urged that he be dismissed. Some accused him of giving contracts and jobs to relatives. Recently, Johnson came under investigation for contract work done on his $1 million home in Opelika. Johnson reportedly asked contractors who do work for the state's two-year colleges to make approximately $34,595 in improvements to his home, but he didn't pay them. Instead, he promised to pay for the work when the house is sold at a later date. Johnson may be eligible for $450,000 in retirement and buyout payments, according to media reports.

Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Mich., has picked Thomas Haas to be its next president. He has been president of the State University of New York campus at Cobleskill since 2003. He assumes office Aug. 22, 2006; annual salary will be $185,000, plus $25,000 in deferred compensation if he completes three years as president.

Lester Lefton, 59, became president of Kent State University (Ohio) on July 1, 2006. He most recently served as vice president for Academic Affairs and provost at Tulane University (La.). Kent is the largest public higher education system in Ohio. Lefton's annual salary will be $350,000.

Karen Gross, professor of law and a consumer finance scholar at New York Law School, has been named president of Southern Vermont College, which is located in Bennington. She has been a law professor for more than 20 years.

John Sladek becomes president of California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, on August 15. He is currently vice chancellor for research at the University of Colorado at Denver and the Health Sciences Center.

Emory & Henry College (Va.) has appointed its first woman president, Rosalind Reichard. She has been vice president for Academic Affairs at Meredith College (N.C.).

Sister Mary Margaret Albert will be inaugurated as president of Siena Heights University, Adrian, Mich., on November 3, 2006. She is currently the executive vice president of Barry University (Fla.).

Florida Atlantic University has named Aileen Izquierdo its first vice president for Communications and Marketing. She is also the first Hispanic to become a VP in the university's 41-year history. Izquierdo has been on staff at FAU since 2003.

John Adams is North Dakota State University's new vice president for Business and Finance. Adams, who has been director of Financial Planning and Budgets at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, also is a former officer in the United States Navy and has served as director of Budget and Planning at Central Michigan University.

John Pontius will move from Hartwick College (N.Y.), where he has been associate professor of Accounting and Finance, to Excelsior College, Albany, where he will serve as vice president for Finance and Administration. He has been employed at Hartwick for 15 years.

William Serrata, named vice president for Student Services and Development for South Texas College, McAllen, has served STC for close to a decade. He started his career with the college as the director of Enrollment Services and Registrar. He was later promoted to dean of that department, and since February 2005 he has been the interim chief Student Services officer responsible for all duties and areas assigned to the vice president for Student Services and Development.

Kenneth Turner, formerly senior vice president of Multicultural and Emerging Markets at AOL, Inc., has been named Vice President of Marketing at Simmons College (Mass.). Turner most recently was in charge of all key audience programming for AOL., including AOL Latino, AOL Black Voices, and AOL for Small Businesses.

Amy McCormack, vice president for business affairs at Dominican University (Ill.), has been promoted to senior vice president for Administration. McCormack held her previous title for 11 years.

The State University of New York announced that Vice Admiral John Craine will be the permanent president of the system's Maritime College, located in Throgs Neck, N.Y. He has been interim president since mid-2005.

The SUNY System also has named Dustin Swanger the permanent president of Fulton-Montgomery Community College in Johnstown. Since 2004, he has served as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Luzerne County Community College (Pa.).

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