3 African Americans Selected to Lead Community Colleges in N.Y. - Higher Education
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3 African Americans Selected to Lead Community Colleges in N.Y.

by Monica Levitan

Three African Americans were recently appointed to lead three community colleges in the state of New York.

The State University of New York (SUNY) Board of Trustees, along with the boards of Jefferson, Rockland, and Tompkins Cortland community colleges boards named Drs. Ty A. Stone, Michael A. Baston and Orinthia T. Montague to these top posts.

The appointments come at a time when college officials across the country are struggling to find ways to increase the number of people of color in positions at community colleges.

Stone will take the helm of Jefferson Community College on July 1. She has held several executive level positions in higher education prior to being selected president. For the past eight years, she has worked as the vice president for strategic initiatives at Sinclair Community College, which is the third largest community college in Ohio.

Stone is credited with improving the college’s master plan, creating public/private partnerships, and providing improved results in areas such as enrollment management. A former assistant professor and project director at Central State University in Ohio, Stone is a veteran of the United States Air Force, where she served as an air traffic controller.

Stone said that the selection of three presidents of color signals that SUNY is committed to diversity, inclusion and equity.

“I think that is an important message to get out to students of color,” Stone said. “They can see people who look like them achieve those greater levels of success.”

Baston will step in as president of Rockland Community College in July. A veteran community college administrator, he oversaw programs at LaGuardia Community College to enrich social, academic, and personal success for over 50,000 students, and recently served as acting provost and vice president for academic and student affairs.
An Aspen Presidential Fellow for Community College Excellence, Baston was nationally recognized for advanced practices and student outcomes and lauded for his work on student success.

Baston said he’s looking forward to getting to know the Rockland community, and learn more about the institution, county and region. “I do not want to be a visitor,” he said. “My wife and I want to be a part of the families and the future of Rockland,” said Baston.

Tompkins Cortland Community College in upstate New York, tapped Montague — who has held several administrative positions at the University of Missouri – St. Louis — to run its institution. Montague has experience working at Normandale Community College, which is the largest community college within the Minnesota State system. There, she served as the dean of students, the chief presidential advisor for the inclusion of student-related policy and procedures, and is currently the vice president of student affairs and chief diversity officer.

Monica Levitan can be reached at mlevitan@diverseeducation.com

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