Maryland native Dawn Lindsay, who has been serving as president of Glendale Community College outside Los Angeles since 2009, said she would have gladly remained at the school until she heard that the presidency at Anne Arundel Community College, a position she referred to as "her dream job," became available.
AACC has named Lindsay as its new president, allowing the McDaniel College graduate with extensive experience at local institutions the chance to return to the area after being away for 18 years.
"I am so proud to represent you," Lindsay, 52, told an assembled audience at AACC when she was introduced to the campus Tuesday. "I promise that I will facilitate your needs. I will listen. I believe in shared governance. I believe in the collective. I believe in the synergy that happens when people interact together.
"To take this college and facilitate continued growth is something I look forward to because of the foundation that you all have created," she said.
She will be the sixth president in the school's 50-year history, replacing Martha A. Smith, who will retire from the position after 18 years on Aug. 1.
Lindsay said she had previously considered returning to the area.
"The nice thing about being in a job that you love is that you're happy to go back to it if things don't work out," Lindsay said, "and you realize you're only going to leave something that you're happy with if you're going to go to something that's going to make you happier.
"If I wasn't fortunate enough to attain this position, I would have happily gone back to the college and the board and the community I work with now," Lindsay added. "I am very invested in that community, but I am very much looking forward to being a part of this community."
AACC officials said that Lindsay has signed a three-year contract worth $234,500 annually, with required annual evaluations. Her benefits package includes a $12,000 vehicle allowance and a $7,000 college contribution to a retirement plan of her choice after one year of employment, based on satisfactory performance.
"We feel very fortunate in getting her for [the $234,500 salary]," said Victoria K. Fretwell, chair of the AACC board of trustees. "We think we got a great deal in that regard. There are community college presidents in the state that make substantially more than that now. I am confident that over the time that Dr. Lindsay is with us and as she continues to help us grow as she's indicated, that the board will take that into consideration in the future as well."
Fretwell said school officials sought to hire someone who had already served as a president.
"It was essential that we do that," said Fretwell. "We have a very well-educated, innovative, sophisticated faculty here. We have a very loyal staff. And it was important that we not skip a beat in making this transition, that we found somebody who had the same kind of values, and while maybe not in length, the same kind of experience that Dr. Smith had, so we could continue on without any interruption."
Lindsay grew up in Woodlawn and has also lived in Fallston, Perry Hall and Severna Park. She held adjunct and instructor positions at Howard Community College and the Community College of Baltimore County's Dundalk campus. She also lectured for the Howard County Police Department.
She has worked at Glendale since 2007 and previously held several dean positions at Riverside Community College, also in California.
Lindsay earned a bachelor's degree in social work and psychology and a master's degree in educational counseling from Western Maryland College (now McDaniel), and a doctorate in organizational leadership from Pepperdine University.
"The reputation of this college is national," Lindsay said about AACC. "I come from a very successful college; Glendale is known as one of the stellar community colleges in California. I wanted to step up, and Anne Arundel, in size and scope, is bigger than Glendale. It has more students by about 10,000, and it has more off-site centers.
"The reputation of the college, the commitment the college has to this community, the passion of the faculty, staff and administration, and the leadership by the board — the longer I was here over the last week, the more I wanted this job," she said.
Fretwell said she and Lindsay signed the new president's contract last Sunday. She said that among Lindsay's first responsibilities will be to take part in the school's search for a new vice president for learning to replace Andrew Meyer, who announced recently that he is stepping down in July.
"By the time she joins us, we will have a new budget," Fretwell added. "We will be wrangling with what kind of position that will be putting us in and maybe making us make different decisions about programs and processes."
AACC officials said it received 120 applications nationwide for the position, then narrowed the pool to 12. Three finalists visited the campus. AACC trustee James H. Johnson Jr., who led the school's search and screening committee, said Lindsay's local ties were not a factor in her selection.
"The big thing was that we have a person who has experience at a similar-sized institution," Johnson said, "and someone who understands the need to reach out and communicate with members of the college community, and will do that in a way that we think will take the college to the next level."
Lindsay is required to live in Anne Arundel County.