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FCC Trustees Name Burmaster Next President

05/01/2014

Elizabeth BurmasterThe Frederick Community College Board of Trustees today named Elizabeth “Libby” Burmaster the 10th president of Frederick Community College after an extensive nationwide search. The longtime educator and Frederick native has been president of Nicolet College in Wisconsin since 2009. She will assume the presidency of FCC on Aug. 18, 2014.

“We are extremely proud and excited to offer the presidency to Elizabeth Burmaster,” said board Chair Debra Borden. “Libby, as she likes to be called, rose to the top of the field after a comprehensive search and screening of more than 60 applicants. We did our homework and listened to our constituents and are confident she is the right person for the job.”

A 13-member search committee, working in conjunction with consultants from R.H.Perry & Associates in Washington, D.C., interviewed a dozen semifinalists before the trustees invited three finalists to the campus. Burmaster was joined by James Mabry, vice president of academic affairs at Mesa Community College in Arizona, and Chris Reber, executive dean of Venango College of Clarion University. The candidates met with the board, campus groups and community leaders over two days. Borden and Vice Chair Dave Bufter then traveled to Rhinelander, Wis., for further reference checks and meetings with Nicolet College faculty, staff and trustees.

“The trip reinforced for us that President Burmaster is an outstanding leader,” said Borden. “We are confident that her exceptional leadership will be a valuable asset, not only for FCC, but also for our community.”

“What impressed me during our time and meetings at Nicolet College was the caliber and strength of her leadership team,” said Bufter. “It wasn’t simply the accolades they shared about President Burmaster’s leadership ability and mentoring skills, but their collective focus on student success that was most impressive. The emphasis on student success is evident in the liberal arts transfer programs, technical and occupational certificates and associate degrees that align with industry needs, and development of partnerships with the Sovereign American Indian Nations served by Nicolet.”

This is a homecoming of sorts for Burmaster who grew up in Frederick and took classes at FCC as a student at Gov. Thomas Johnson High School.

"It is my honor to serve as the president of Frederick Community College. I look forward to working alongside students, faculty, staff, and members of a local community whose teachers helped form my own aspirations to pursue a career in educational leadership," said Burmaster. "Together, we can ensure that FCC remains at the forefront of community colleges by having a future characterized by innovations in teaching and learning, academic excellence, and success for all students."

While at Nicolet College, Burmaster led the college’s strategic plan efforts and helped reorganize academic and support programs to ensure student success. She secured state and federal grants to spur workforce and economic development, and implemented a dual enrollment program that allowed high school students to simultaneously earn college credits, among other achievements.

From 2001 to 2009, Burmaster served as the elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction, overseeing a budget of about $9 billion and 1,000 employees over two terms in office. She has long been an advocate of student success in public education. As an elementary school principal, Burmaster opened a magnet school to enhance racial diversity and academic achievement through arts education. Additionally, she worked for nearly a decade as principal of a 2,000-student urban high school and led curriculum, behavioral, and teaching reforms to close the achievement gap. The school was also known for its National Merit Scholars.

Burmaster has been active in educational organizations at local, state, and national levels. She served for eight years on the University of Wisconsin board of regents and the Wisconsin Technical College System Board. She also served for eight years on the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board and the Wisconsin Higher Education Aids Board. Furthermore, she has served as president-elect, president, and past president of the national Council of Chief State School Officers.

The Gov. Thomas Johnson High graduate has described Frederick as “the core of who I am and what I have contributed as a public education teacher, principal, president of Nicolet College, and as the Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction.”

She holds honorary doctorates from Edgewood College in Madison, Wis., and Beloit College in Beloit, Wis. Burmaster earned her Master of Science in Educational Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison as well as 45 post-master’s credits from the same institution. Her doctoral program was interrupted when she ran and held public office. She also holds a bachelor of Music with Honors in Music Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Current FCC President Doug Browning will step down effective Aug. 18, 2014. However, in accordance with his employment contract, he will serve as a consultant/adviser to assist with the transition and other duties on a half-time status until Dec. 31, 2014.

Former FCC presidents are Duval Sweadner (1957-1967), Dr. Lewis Stephens (1967-78), Dr. Lewis Turner (1978-79), Dr. Jack Kussmaul (1979-86), Dr. Lee Betts (1986-97), Dr. Patricia Stanley (1998-2005), Dr. Carol Eaton (2005-2011); Dr. Frederico Talley (2012-2013) and Browning (2013-2014).

Many of the candidates in the search process noted how FCC was known regionally and nationally for its innovative programs and outstanding faculty and staff. The college has widespread community support and serves more than 17,000 students each year who take credit and continuing education classes. The college has about 1,000 full- and part-time employees.