Berkshire Community College president earns an A for her first year as school's head


PITTSFIELD -- Berkshire Community College President Ellen Kennedy's first annual performance report card from the board of trustees was an overwhelmingly positive one.

"Despite the many changes that were taking place, President Kennedy already has numerous achievements during her short presidency," the board's Human Resources Subcommittee stated in a letter to Richard Freeland, commissioner of the Department of Higher Education.

The board on Tuesday unanimously approved the letter, which detailed the two-month review process, as well as findings from a questionnaire that included space for comments from trustees concerning Kennedy's performance.

A 3.5 percent merit salary increase to $181,125 also was unanimously approved, pending approval from the Department of Higher Education.

"Nothing is accomplished without the great team we have here," Kennedy told board members, adding, "I look forward to the coming year and the opportunity to make BCC even more revered than it already is in this community."

Kennedy, 52, the former chief financial officer at BCC, became interim president during a nationwide search to replace Paul E. Raverta, who retired in January 2012. She was unanimously selected by trustees in May 2012 to be the institution's seventh president, and she also continued to serve for several months as CFO.

The performance report stated in part: "The majority of [trustee] responses fell within the range of satisfied to very satisfied. Comments contained common threads giving her accolades for motivating and inspiring her senior team during her first year as president. She is lauded for having open communication with her staff and the campus. She is visible on campus, presents a very professional image, is creating an environment of trust and collaboration and is well-respected. Her past experience as CFO and as acting president has given her a strong base of experience to build on."

Kennedy was lauded for participating in numerous meetings and conferences at the state level in education and for meeting "individually with every public school superintendent in Berkshire County, sharing data and making presentations to raise awareness of initiatives such as the [statewide] Vision Project. She has expanded collaborative relationships with other educational institutions and developed partnerships with businesses and organizations in the community."

And the trustees noted efforts to promote long-term planning for the college, expand services to students with diverse backgrounds, including veterans; recognize the achievements of Phi Theta Kappa honor students, oversee improvements to facilities at the college and promote integration of technology into the classroom.

Kennedy also completed her doctorate degree this year, the report stated.

In summary, the trustees said, "ln the short time that she has been at the helm of the college the feedback has been positive. She has transitioned into her role enthusiastically and with a strong vision."

Kennedy completed a doctorate in higher education administration from Northeastern University and holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst; a Master of Public Administration degree from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, as well as undergraduate degrees from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and Saint Mary's College.

The trustees on Tuesday also received an annual audit report from O'Connor & Drew, certified public accountants of Braintree, which found no problems with BCC finances or fiscal operations.

"We were very pleased with the audit results," CFO John Law said following the meeting. "There were no findings," he said, meaning no problems noted by the firm.

"It was a very clean audit," he said. "This reinforces our view that we have a very solid institution."

To reach Jim Therrien:,
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