Theresa B. Felder has been appointed the 10th president in Harford Community College’s history — and its first Black president — the institution’s board of trustees announced Friday.
Felder will take over leadership of HCC starting Jan. 1. She follows Dianna Phillips, who resigned from the college in February. Jacqueline S. Jackson, the college’s vice president of student affairs and institutional effectiveness a Title IV coordinator, has served as interim president throughout this year.
“The board of trustees unanimously voted to select Dr. Felder as the next president of Harford Community College,” board Chair Laura Henninger said in a statement. “Her strength, breadth of experience, and her student-focused background align with Harford’s mission, vision, and values. We believe that she is the right person at this time to move the college forward.”
Felder comes to Harford Community College from Clark State Community College in Springfield, Ohio, where she most recently served as the senior vice president for student success. Prior to this position, she was the vice president of student affairs, administrative dean for Clark State’s largest branch campus, the academic affairs coordinator, a college access director, and a workforce development coordinator.
“Dr. Felder has provided excellent leadership while at Clark State, and the Harford board of trustees, faculty, staff, and students saw in her what we see every day: a passionate advocate for student success, a data-driven decision-maker, a strategic thinker, and an empathetic and future-focused visionary, said Jo Alice Blondin, the president of Clark State.
Felder’s focus is on providing access to higher education for all students, according to a news release from the college. She is passionate about increasing the number of college graduates from first-generation and low-income backgrounds, which was addressed in her doctoral dissertation.
Felder started her professional career in corporate accounting and later became an independent consultant, specializing in job readiness and employment training. She completed her doctoral degree in higher education leadership at Northeastern University, and holds a Master of Science degree in administration from Central Michigan University and a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Syracuse University.
Felder and her husband, Greg, are excited about moving to Maryland, according to the news release. They will be in close proximity to their son, Gregory, who lives in Largo, and works for the World Bank in Washington. Their daughter, Taylor, is currently a junior at Butler University in Indiana. They will also be closer to Felder’s parents and siblings, who live in New York.
A nine-member committee led by two of the college’s board of trustees, Steve Linkous and Christopher Payne, oversaw the presidential search process. Over the past few weeks, the college hosted four finalists, who held forums with staff, students and community members; Felder visited the campus Oct. 1 and 2.
During her forum with the community, she talked about how she was working as a consultant providing workforce development training, with Clark State as one of her clients.
“The college president asked me to get more and more involved in the college and then as I did, I realized that I had found my passion,” Felder said. “I decided to permanently change my career goals to work at the community college.”
Felder said she was passionate about working in higher education is because she is part of the first generation in her family to graduate from college. She also spoke about her time as an administrator at various levels with Clark State, her successes in stabilizing declining enrollment, which has been an issue for community colleges around the nation — including Harford — for the past decade, as well as implementing Clark State’s strategic plan, increasing the college’s performance-based state funding by $4 million and working to develop relationships within the school and the community.
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“That’s the same energy and focus that I would bring to Harford,” she said.
Felder was chosen over three other finalists: Kelly Koermer, the current dean of community education, business and applied technology at Harford; Annette Haggray, the provost at Northern Virginia Community College; and David Hinds, who had served five years as president of Victoria College in Texas.
Her salary will be $210,000, according to Nancy Dysard, a spokesperson for HCC.