MCLA presidential pick Greg Summers bows out, citing family health issues

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NORTH ADAMS — Greg Summers, the incoming president of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, has withdrawn his acceptance of the position, citing a family health issue.

"It certainly was a surprise to us," MCLA board of trustees President Tyler Fairbank told the Eagle on Tuesday evening.

Summers, the current provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, was recommended unanimously by the board of trustees on March 5 for the top MCLA post. He was approved by the state Board of Higher Education on March 10.

He was scheduled to take the helm at MCLA in July. But in a press release on Tuesday evening, the college said Summers has bowed out.

Summers, was "deeply apologetic" for his withdrawal, Fairbank said, and was "very impressed with the MCLA community."

Fairbank said Summers' withdrawal was not due to contract negotiations. Details of his contract were not available; former President Mary Grant earned $243,212 in 2014.

"Unfortunately his family is dealing with a confluence of health issues that have recently surfaced, making it impossible for him and his family to relocate," Fairbank stated in prepared remarks.

He continued that "the board was excited to have found someone of the caliber of Dr. Summers" but "will take this in stride as MCLA is a well-led and well-managed institution."

He said the board of trustees will be "evaluating its options moving forward."

Cynthia Brown, the college's vice president for academic affairs, has agreed to continue as interim president, Fairbank said.

"MCLA remains in an excellent position to manage this process," Fairbank said in the prepared release. "We have an outstanding, committed senior team, faculty, staff, and supportive community coupled with an experienced and engaged board of trustees and foundation board of directors."

Summers was among two other finalists who visited campus in February. They emerged from 59 applications nationwide in a seven-month search to replace Grant, who left in December after 12 years to serve as chancellor elect of University of North Carolina at Asheville.

Two other candidates were finalists for the post: Paula Krebs, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Bridgewater State University, and Jane McBride Gates, provost and vice president of academic affairs at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury. McBride Gates had withdrawn her application prior to the trustees' vote.

The trustees reported being impressed with Summers' experience in advocating for public higher education, his educational background of history and physics at public institutions, a leadership style that they believed would promote inclusiveness and transparency, and willingness to collaborate.

Contact Ed Damon at 413-770-6979.


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