“Community is the middle name of this college, and I think one of the hallmarks of this institution is being responsive to the unique needs of the community. I look forward to doing that,” said Dr. Marcia Ballinger, Lorain County Community College’s newly selected president.
The LCCC Board of Trustees selected Ballinger as the new president on April 21. Ballinger, who currently services as the college’s provost and vice president of academic and learner services, will fill the vacancy left by Dr. Roy Church, who will retire this June.
“I understand that there were absolutely wonderful candidates so,” Ballinger said of her appointment to the presidency. “As I look at it for me, it’s the board’s decision, and I’m honored that the board selected me for the position,” Ballinger, who is LCCC’s current provost and vice president for academic and learner services, has been employed at LCCC since 1991.
This will be the first time LCCC has had a woman serve in the role of president, marking a stark departure for LCCC, which has only selected white men as president in the past.
“I’m very proud of the opportunity to serve as president and honored to do that,” Ballinger said in light of that fact. “And equally proud to be the first female president in that role to do that as well.”
Dr. Ballinger earned her bachelor of arts in journalism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, her M.B.A. from Kent State University, and her Ph.D. in higher education/community college leadership from Walden University. Since then, she has worked solely for community colleges, starting her career at Cuyahoga Community College as manager for media relations from 1988-1991.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working under Dr. Ballinger these last couple of years and it’s really been a delight,” said LCCC’s Dr. Robert Beckstrom, “and in many respects I think she’s more suited to be president than provost. I’m looking forward to her time,” he said.
Since coming to Lorain County Community College, Ballinger has worked for marketing/recruitment and media relations from 1991-2002, served as vice president for Strategic and Institutional Development 2002-2011, and also served as vice president and chief operating officer for the LCCC Foundation during this time. More recently Ballinger served as provost and vice president for academic and learner services from 2011 to present.
In her role as provost and vice president, Ballinger has led the campaign for student completion by reforming curriculum to eliminate excessive credit hours and by overseeing the creation of programs such as Student Accelerating in Learning (SAIL), and the implementation of student success coaches. Due to her efforts, LCCC has seen a 63 percent increase in three-year graduation rates for full-time students, and saw the number of associate degree and credentials awarded since 2011 by 44 percent.
“First and foremost is our commitment to our education corner stone,” Ballinger said of her vision for LCCC’s future, “and so really embodied in that is our commitment to student completion and academic success. Within that, we have our priorities that really reflect how we are planning to continue our work for students to achieve their goals and degrees,” she stated.
Ballinger’s resume centers on her efforts to grow the LCCC community, including expanding the development of the University Partnership (UP) program, which now offers over 50 associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from over ten four-year institutions. The UP started in 1995, making LCCC the first community college in Ohio to implement such a program. From the outset, the UP program has granted more than 5,000 bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Ballinger has also been instrumental in increasing enrollment in the Early College High School (ECHS) program. She has been at the center of the creation, development, and direction of the ECHS, which is designed to motivate high schoolers to become first-generation college students. All ECHS courses are taught on the LCCC campus tuition free. The program grants area high school students the opportunity to earn their high school diploma and an associate’s degree simultaneously.
“I also think it’s the right time for somebody like this,” Beckstrom added, “because we’re not looking to change directions radically.”
In addition to her work on campus, Ballinger serves on many boards and committees, including the American Association of Community College’s Pathway Institute Coach, the Achieving the Dream Network Development National Advisory Committee, and the Ohio Association of Community College Student Success Council.
On April 7, Ballinger became the recipient of the prestigious Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence. She is one of 40 community college leaders across the country to be recognized for the inaugural award. The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based out of Washington D.C.
Ballinger has also participated in many regional, state, and national presentations and publications. Her presentations include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
(“Interaction Effect 2015”, Sept. 2015), the Jobs For the Future State Policy Meeting (“Designing with the End in Mind: LCCC’s Approach to Guided Pathways and Meta Majors”, July 2015, and the Ohio Association of Community College’s Chief Academic Officers/Chief Financial Officers Joint Meeting ( “Understanding Performance-Based Funding,” Feb. 2015). Ballinger has been published in N. Remington and R. Remington “Alternative Pathways to the Baccalaureate: Do Community Colleges Offer a Viable Solution to the Nation’s Knowledge Deficit?”, writing an article titled “The University Partnership at Lorain County Community
College” with LCCC’s Dr. John Crooks.
Ballinger will be succeeding Church, who is LCCC’s longest serving president after being hired in 1987.
Ballinger will be the institution’s sixth overall president in its 53 year history. Dr. Max Lerner served as LCCC’s first president from 1963-70.
Thomas Bowen served as acting president from 1970-1971. Then followed Dr. Omar Olsen from 1971-1986, and Interim President Dr. Richard Mellott from 1986-1987. Dr. Church has been LCCC’s president since March, 1987.
“I think it went very well,” said Dr. Rosa Hainaj, Dean of the Science and Math Division.
“It seems like the board listened to what the stakeholders wanted to say.”
The college used a national search committee to find candidates to fill the vacancy. The American Governing Board (AGB) launched its search in the fall of 2015 lead by Dr. Carlos Hernandez. AGB, along with the LCCC Board of Directors and a search committee consisting of faculty and staff representatives, narrowed the field to three finalists earlier this
The other two presidential candidates were Dr. MaryAnn Janosik, a Lorain County resident and LCCC graduate, and Ray Michael Di Pasquale, former president of the Community College of
“I wasn’t surprised by the selection because of what we were presented with. I think it was a fair process,” Hainaj said. “We had an external consultant there were and guidelines that were followed and there was representation of most of the stakeholders of the campus and within the search group,” she said.
The decision was announced at a Board of Trustees meeting on April 21. Church is set to retire on June 30 of this year. Dr. Ballinger will assume the presidency as of July 1.
Charlotte Weiss, Rebecca Marion, and Angela Casey contributed to this story.
LCCC’s past, present and future: