HCN News & Notes

Holyoke Community College Trustees Choose George Timmons as Next President

HOLYOKE — Calling him “creative,” “innovative,” and a “strong leader” who would be an “excellent ambassador for the college,” the Holyoke Community College (HCC) board of trustees voted in favor of George Timmons as the next president of HCC.

Timmons is now provost and senior vice president of Academic and Student Affairs at Columbia Greene Community College in Hudson, N.Y.

Robert Gilbert, chair of the HCC board of trustees, said Timmons is expected to start his term as HCC’s fifth president the last week of June, pending approval from the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education on May 9.

“We’re excited to have voted Dr. George Timmons as the fifth president of Holyoke Community College,” Gilbert said. “We’re looking forward to his leadership, his work with the entire community, and his ability to lead this institution for the success of the students, faculty, and staff.”

During deliberations, trustees noted that the strength of all four finalists for president made the exercise of of choosing difficult.

Besides Timmons, the other finalists were Noemí Custodia-Lora, vice president of the Lawrence Campus and Community Relations at Northern Essex Community College in Massachusetts; Tony Hawkins, former provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, Continuing Education, and Workforce Development at Frederick Community College in Maryland; and Arlene Rodríguez, provost and vice president of Academic and Student Affairs at Middlesex Community College in Massachusetts.

Each of the four finalists visited HCC earlier this month for a day and a half of tours, open forums, presentations, and interviews.

“I have struggled because each brings their own unique talents and skills,” trustee Vanessa Smith said, “but the one who embodies the whole package for me is Dr. George Timmons.”

After initially failing to reach a majority, the board ultimately voted for Timmons by a margin of 6-2-2. A third, ceremonial vote was unanimous.

“We had four very diverse candidates, but the candidate I could envision leading HCC is George Timmons,” trustee Yolanda Johnson said. “He is a leader who could build on what has already been accomplished under President Royal. He is well-prepared to build on that foundation, and he has a story that could resonate with our Black and Brown students and move the needle on enrollment.”

Smith recalled something Timmons said during one of his interviews that really sealed her choice: if approved as the next HCC president, he said, “I will be in and of this community.”

In August, Royal, who has been with HCC since January 2017, announced that she would retire after the 2022-23 academic year. Her last day will be July 14. Her last three weeks will overlap with Timmons’ first three at HCC.

“I’m thrilled that the process was inclusive of all voices in our community and that our board of trustees really took the feedback and the perspectives of all our constituency groups — faculty, staff, students, community — into consideration while deliberating,” Royal said, “and now I’m excited to be able to start the transition and prepare Dr. Timmons for serving as the fifth president to help set him up for success as he leads HCC into the future.”

Timmons, 61, holds a Ph.D. in higher-education administration from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio; a master’s degree in higher education from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., and a bachelor’s degree in financial management from Norfolk State University, also in Norfolk, Va.

He has held his position as provost and senior vice president of Academic and Student Affairs at Columbia-Greene Community College since 2019. Before that, he worked at Excelsior College in Albany, N.Y., where he held a number of administrative positions culminating with dean of the School of Liberal Arts.