NEW JERSEY (OCN) — Essex County College’s Board of Trustees announced at its meeting on Tuesday morning that Dr. Edythe M. Abdullah has decided to take on a new professional venture and depart as the College President, effective March 31, 2013. Current Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Gale E. Gibson will become Interim President on Monday, April 1, 2013.
“As I make the difficult yet exciting decision to take on a new professional venture, I am proud to have become a part of the Essex County College community, and to have been able to institute a list of notable accomplishments during my tenure,” said Dr. Abdullah, the College’s first female President. “I want to thank the Board of Trustees, College’s executive team, administrators, faculty, staff and greater Essex County community for opening your doors and allowing me to successfully lead the organization over the past three years.”
Selected to the College’s top position following a nationwide search conducted in 2009-2010 by the college’s Board of Trustees, Dr. Abdullah succeeded Dr. A. Zachary Yamba who retired after a 29-year tenure as President. Hallmarks of Dr. Abdullah’s presidency include initiating data-driven institutional assessment, enhancing workforce development partnerships, and no increase in the tuition rates over the last three years.
Earlier this month, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) voted to reaffirm accreditation for Essex County College. The official word from MSCHE ends for the College a more than two-year process toward reaffirmation of accreditation, following the implementation of new sustainable, data-driven assessment cycles in Fall 2010.
Dr. Abdullah also restructured the organization to provide greater support and leadership to areas that directly impact student success. Her vision of four “Actionable Foresights” organized focused efforts on the Economy, Cost Burden to Students, Middle States Accreditation, and Leadership. The strategic vision created a unified direction for department objectives and budget decisions.
Under her leadership, ECC’s graduation rate rose from 5.1% to 7.2% in just three years. The retention rate also improved and the transfer rate before graduation decreased. Essex County College is one of only two 2-year institutions in New Jersey without a tuition increase since 2010-2011; simultaneously, she implemented new academic, administrative, capital projects, and professional development for faculty, staff and adjuncts. A stalwart supporter of technology-based learning, she led initiatives that saw the number of hybrid/online and distance learning courses increase from one in Spring 2010 to close to 30 courses per semester.
“The Board of Trustees witnessed the institution flourish as she developed many innovations in governance, partnerships, teaching and learning, and information sharing during her tenure,” said Board Chair Calvin Souder, Esq. “Over the past three years, she exemplified a passion for the comprehensive community college mission and built strong relationships with legislators, community leaders, governmental agencies, and business industry leaders. As we experience a period of transition, I am confident we are putting in place an Interim President in Dr. Gale Gibson who will be equally committed to achieving and building upon Dr. Abdullah’s success and on the long-standing mission of Essex County College.”
Dr. Gibson came to ECC after serving as founding Dean of the College of Freshman Studies, and Professor in the Department of Student Affairs and Services, at Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York. Dr. Gibson earned her Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration with a concentration in Adult and Community College Education from North Carolina State University. She received a Master of Arts in Social Sciences and Counseling, and a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Binghamton University – State University of New York.
“I’m very impressed with the academic blueprint and support services in place at Essex County College,” said Dr. Gibson. “I hope to enhance and build upon the legacy that Dr. Abdullah and Dr. Yamba created to continue to enhance Essex’s role as a leading community college in the Newark, Essex County and the region.”