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GOCC to offer Newton presidential position

Dr. Bryan Newton addresses the public at a presidential forum Tuesday, April 23 at Glen Oaks Community College. Newton was offered the position of president by the college’s Board of Trustees Thursday, April 25. (COMMERCIAL-NEWS | ROBERT TOMLINSON)

By Robert Tomlinson
News Director

CENTREVILLE — Glen Oaks Community College appears to have found their next president.

At a special meeting Thursday, April 25, the GOCC Board of Trustees officially extended an offer to Dr. Bryan Newton to be the ninth president in the college’s history.

The decision was made after nearly an hour of deliberation during the special meeting, where the college chose between Newton, Dr. Vernon Smith and Dr. Katherine Zatz, who also appeared in several public question-and-answer forums earlier that week. The formal vote to offer the contract to Newton was a unanimous 7-0 vote.

The selection is not yet finalized, however. As of Wednesday, the college is still in negotiations with Newton on a contract agreement. Once that is complete, Newton would begin his tenure as president in July.

Newton is currently the vice president for enrollment management and student services at Wor-Wic Community College in Salisbury, Md., a position he has held since 2015. Previously, he was in the same position at Aiken Technical College in Graniteville, S.C., and was Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington, Ind.

Newton holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Education and Human Resources Studies degree from Colorado State University, a Juris Doctorate from the Ohio State University College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

Following the decision, GOCC Board President Bruce Gosling said it was a “relief” to have a new president chosen, and that the board made the best choice.

“I think we had a good field to choose from, and we made a good choice,” Gosling said.

On Tuesday, April 23, Newton participated in one of three days of public forums held at the college, which was a way for the public, including students, staff and faculty, to ask the presidential candidates questions, get to know the candidates better, and give feedback about the candidates to the Board of Trustees.

Newton said during the public forum he wanted to be the next president because he’s faced plenty of challenges and has the experience to be an effective president.

“While each day is different, I think I’ve faced many of the problems and challenges that I would face as president. I served in a number of different areas, so I think that’s helpful to me, having experience in student affairs and enrollment management, which is critically important, but also having experience in human resources, having experience in fundraising, which is so much of a president’s job in this day and age,” Newton said.

Newton said the biggest challenge the college will be facing is determining where enrollment is coming from, as well as the long-term health of enrollment management.

“I think that’s something you have to get into, you really have to work towards, you really have to have an enrollment management plan, you have to look at the data, the data has to tell you exactly where you need to go with enrollment,” Newton said. “I think that’s the biggest challenge for this community college as well as all community colleges across the country.”

Later, Newton said that building relationships is “vital” for any president to succeed, especially building relationships with the community and with faculty and staff.

“I’m going to be out and about, having conversations with business and industry, K-12 leaders, government officials, etc., and I’ll be doing a lot of listening in the first six months and a year, figuring out exactly what the community needs from us,” Newton said. “Internally, I think you have to build trust with faculty and staff to be successful. You have to be transparent in what you’re doing, and that’s a hallmark of my leadership philosophy, making sure you share decision making with the college campus as a whole; it’s vitally important.”

With that, Newton mentioned it was important to support the support staff and administrators as well, saying that at the end of the day, they’re all focused on student services.

“I try not to get into units pitting units against others, and I know the faculty are different than administration who’s different than staff, and the reality is we’re all one college, and we’re all focused on student success, and that’s what’s vitally important. … We have to be supportive of everybody and be supportive of each other,” Newton said. “One of the things that goes back to my leadership is making sure that people are able to grow in whatever way they see fit. For many people in my division, they are happy in their jobs, but they want to grow in their jobs, too. Making sure we have leadership development and professional development is important to them.”

He also mentioned his leadership style as “authentic” and “not trying to hide the ball and play games” with people. He also mentioned having compassion as well, noting that people are “humans before you’re employees.” At the end, Newton said that making a presidential choice is “critical,” that “leadership does matter,” and that the college needs to make sure the personality “works for the community.”

“I would love to be part of Glen Oaks Community College,” Newton said.

During deliberations on April 25, the board took a ranked-choice ballot of the board members, which had Newton with four first-place votes and Vernon Smith with three first-place votes out of the seven board members. Board members said during discussion all three candidates were strong candidates, but one candidate, Newton, had stood out the most in their view.

The board also heard comments from Newton’s peers about his strengths, management style and history, with many commenters, whose comments were read out by Jill Board, the board’s consultant in the presidential search, saying that they would be “shocked” if Newton failed as a college president.

“They all pretty much said the same thing: ‘I would be shocked if he failed,’” Board said. “One person said, ‘I can’t imagine him failing; I don’t think that’s an option for him. It wouldn’t be him. He is ready to be a president and he understands the board-president relationship and is ready.’”

Ultimately, the board took a second ballot later on, with six first-place votes for Newton out of the seven board members. That led to the formal vote, which approved offering him the contract unanimously.

Newton will be replacing Dr. David Devier, who announced last year he would retire at the end of the 2023-24 academic year. Devier had been the president of the college since 2014.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 or

Editor’s note 5/7/2024: A previous version of this article did not have the results of the formal vote of the board to approve offering Newton the contract. The Commercial-News apologizes for the oversight and for any confusion it may have caused.

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