BANGOR, Maine — Hardworking, dedicated and enthusiastic were just a few words used to describe Lawrence Barrett, who was inaugurated as Eastern Maine Community College’s sixth president on Friday.
More than 100 faculty, students and community members gathered at Rangeley Hall on campus to formally welcome Barrett, 46, to EMCC with a ceremony that took months of planning by a special inaugural committee.
Barrett, a New York native, has held the position since August 2010, when after a national search he was chosen to replace former President Joyce Hedlund. Hedlund stepped down after more than 15 years at EMCC to accept the presidency at Washington County Community College in Calais.
Like other higher education institutions in the state, EMCC has been faced with both fiscal challenges and pressure to meet the growing demand for a college education in recent years.
On Friday, Barrett said he was ready to meet the challenges and looks forward to improving many aspects of the college. He said his priorities include expanding academic programs and starting new ones, enhancing the public profile of the school in order to increase enrollment, and focusing on stronger fundraising efforts to offset decreasing revenues from the state.
EMCC is a part of the Maine Community College System, which consists of six other two-year institutions that specialize in liberal studies and technical and professional career programs. The system is overseen by 13 trustees, and member schools receive a portion of their funding from the Legislature.
Within months of his arrival at EMCC, Barrett established a new strategic growth plan, which aims to increase enrollment to 5,000 students by 2016. In 2009, total fall enrollment was 2,149.
Additionally, Barrett initiated a fundraising effort for the Leadership Scholarship Program, something he hopes will boost student success rates and help build future leadership in the state.
The scholarship program funds, available in 2012, will go to six Maine high school students and two nontraditional students in order to pay for nearly half of their tuition. More than $30,000 has already been raised.
“The strategic growth plan and programs like the leadership scholarship will drive a lot of what we do,” said Barrett. “Fundraising will continue to be very important in order to start new programs and expand current ones that we want to be specific to the Maine economy.”
Barrett’s plan for growth will focus on six areas, including ways to increase success, improve campus facilities and find ways to sustain growth rates. The college also plans to continue to market itself aggressively by launching a new website and airing new television commercials, among other efforts.
Speakers at Friday’s inauguration ceremony lauded Barrett for his background and dedication to his position as president. Before arriving at EMCC, he was vice chancellor of enrollment management and student services at Purdue University North Central in Indiana, where he achieved a 42 percent increase in enrollment.
In all, Barrett has 24 years of experience in higher education and has served in various positions at a private college, community colleges and a four-year university.
“Lawrence is the right person for this job,” said John Fitzsimmons, president of the Maine Community College System. “He’s a proven leader that has demonstrated the skills and talents that will take this college where it needs to go.”