PARAMUS, NJ — The eighth president of Bergen Community College will emerge from a field of four finalists recommended to the institution’s board of trustees by a search committee of College officials, faculty, staff, students and community members. Selected through a nationwide search process, finalists Eric M. Friedman, Ph.D.; Larry D. Johnson Jr., D.A.; Timothy G. Lynch, Ph.D.; and Robert M. Pignatello, Ed.D., carry significant experience in the community college sector - including at institutions in New Jersey. Each candidate has either served as a president, an executive vice president or a provost at institutions across the U.S.

Board of Trustees Chair Gerard L. Carroll has led the search process, working in concert with the committee, College counsel (DeCotiis, FitzPatrick, Cole & Giblin, LLP) and higher education search consultants from the Pauly Group.

“The caliber of candidates who applied, interviewed and ultimately became finalists remains reflective of Bergen Community College’s renown in the higher education community,” he said. “The collaborative search process has resulted in a group of four highly qualified finalists who are prepared to lead Bergen into its next period of prosperity. It has been an honor, as chair of the board of trustees and the presidential search committee, to lead the College during this transition period.”

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The four higher education leaders will meet virtually with College constituencies next week to outline their goals for the state’s No. 1 college for associate degree graduates. As part of their visits, the candidates will participate in a virtual tour of the institution’s resources and attend open forums with faculty, staff, students and the general public. Visit Bergen.edu/presidential search for links to the open forums.
 
Candidate Visitation Schedules and Biographies

Timothy G. Lynch, Ph.D. — Thursday, November 5

8:40 - 9 a.m.              Virtual Tour: Members of the Board of Trustees
9:10 - 10:30 a.m.       Open Forum: Faculty
10:45 a.m. - noon      Open Forum: Confidential, Professional, Administrators and Support Staff
12:15 - 1:30 p.m.       Open Forum: Students and Community Members

Dr. Lynch currently serves as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Queensborough Community College, a campus of the City University of New York (CUNY), the largest urban university system in the U.S. In this role, he works with faculty and staff from 17 academic departments and oversees campus efforts tied to various CUNY-wide initiatives, including strategic planning as it relates to access and completion, college readiness and knowledge creation. He previously served as interim president (2018-20) of Queensborough as well.

Before joining Queensborough, Dr. Lynch served as provost and vice president of academic affairs at SUNY Maritime College, with prior teaching and administrative experience at the California Maritime Academy, a specialized campus of the California State University system. While there, Dr. Lynch oversaw efforts that led to the establishment of the institution's academic success center, which improved retention, persistence and graduation rates while also providing important professional development opportunities for faculty and staff interested in the scholarship of teaching and learning. At CUNY, Dr. Lynch served as principal investigator on two $1 million Carl D. Perkins grants, as well as lead author on several HSI, transfer-oriented and workforce development initiatives.

Dr. Lynch earned history degrees from Brooklyn College (B.A.) and the CUNY Graduate Center (Ph.D.).

Larry D. Johnson, A.D. — Thursday, November 5 
1:30 - 1:50 p.m.                   Virtual Tour: Members of the Board of Trustees
2 - 3:20 p.m.                        Open Forum: Faculty
3:30 - 4:45 p.m.                   Open Forum: Confidential, Professional, Administrators and Support Staff
5 - 6:15 p.m.                        Open Forum: Students and Community Members
 
Dr. Johnson represents the first African-American president in Phoenix College’s 100-year history. As president, he launched the “president’s promise,” a comprehensive plan to: (re)engage community and workforce leaders; improve employee satisfaction and engagement; increase student persistence, retention, graduation and transfer; and cultivate an environment that embraces diverse perspectives.

Prior to his appointment, Dr. Johnson served as campus provost and chief academic officer at St. Louis Community College’s Forest Park Campus. He was instrumental in implementing early college programs, increasing access and success for men of color and establishing partnerships with nonprofit and business leaders. Before Dr. Johnson’s tenure at St. Louis, he served in numerous positions including associate dean of journalism and English (Broward College), department chair of general studies and developmental education, and English and humanities faculty (Georgia Piedmont Technical College).

Dr. Johnson earned his B.A. in English literature from Florida A&M University, an M.A. in humanities with an emphasis in medieval to baroque studies and a graduate certificate in institutional research from Florida State University. He earned a doctor of arts from Clark Atlanta University in humanities with a focus in English literature.

Robert M. Pignatello, Ed.D. — Friday, November 6 
8:40 - 9:00 a.m.                       Virtual Tour: Members of the Board of Trustees
9:10 - 10:30 a.m.                     Open Forum: Faculty
10:45 a.m. - noon                    Open Forum: Confidential, Professional, Administrators and Support Staff
12:15 - 1:30 p.m.                    Open Forum: Students and Community Members
 
Dr. Pignatello currently serves as the president of Lock Haven University. He has focused on strategic enrollment and retention there, creating the office of student success to coordinate services related to improving outcomes and fostering a holistic student experience; developing a strategic plan to improve student mental health and wellbeing; establishing the university’s first office of diversity, equity and inclusion; and focusing the institution on closing the achievement gap. Dr. Pignatello also played a key role in the redesign of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education in collaboration with the board of governors, chancellor and other system university presidents to strengthen sustainability through university integration, greater sharing of both administrative and academic programs and providing greater value, access and opportunity for students.
 
Previously, Dr. Pignatello worked as vice president/chief operating officer at CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice and also served as a local council member, deputy mayor, mayor and legislative assistant in New Jersey.
 
Dr. Pignatello holds a B.A. in political science and public administration from Montclair State University, an M.P.A. from Rutgers University Graduate School and an Ed.D. in educational leadership - higher education from Saint Peter’s University.
 
Eric M. Friedman, Ph.D. — Friday, November 6 
1:30 - 1:50 p.m.                 Virtual Tour: Members of the Board of Trustees
2 - 3:20 p.m.                      Open Forum: Faculty
3:30 - 4:45 p.m.                 Open Forum: Confidential, Professional, Administrators and Support Staff
5 - 6:15 p.m.                      Open Forum: Students and Community Members
 
Dr. Friedman has worked for more than 13 years at Hudson County Community College, most recently as the executive vice president and provost/chief operating officer. His successes at Hudson include: leading an affirmation of accreditation as accreditation liaison officer; providing leadership and guidance for the president’s advisory council on diversity, equity and inclusion; launching an array of new programs in high-demand fields; and overseeing the expansion of a center for online learning as a key area for fiscal sustainability. Dr. Friedman created additional enrollment opportunities by leading the development of off-site locations, expanding early college dual enrollment programs and managing the development of Hudson’s first fully-accredited school of nursing.

He has taught at a number of public and private colleges, including Drew University, Passaic County Community College, New School University and The Art Institute of New York City. Dr. Friedman’s presentations at community college conferences have addressed topics such as student success, effective communication during an accreditation cycle and ethnographic methods in the classroom.

Dr. Friedman earned his Ph.D. and M.A. in sociology from the New School for Social Research, an M.A. in humanities and social thought from New York University and a B.A. in English from the University of Denver.

Shortly after the public forums, the College’s board of trustees will interview each finalist and ultimately move to hire the institution’s next president. Bergen’s newest chief leader will take office, at latest, Jan. 1, 2021.

The search process represents the conclusion of a yearlong search that began when Bergen’s seventh president, Michael D. Redmond, Ph.D., retired Dec. 31, 2019 after serving the institution for nearly 40 years in a variety of roles, including president, executive vice president and professor. Anthony Ross, Ed.D., has guided the College as interim president since Dr. Redmond’s retirement.

Since Bergen’s establishment in Paramus by the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders in 1963 and its subsequent opening in 1968, seven presidents have led New Jersey’s largest community college, prioritizing the hallmarks of a community college education: quality, access and affordability for all who seek lifelong learning opportunities. More than 740,000 students have taken classes at Bergen, with countless others visiting for community and cultural events. The College ranks No. 1 in the state for associate degree graduates; alumni have attended the country’s most prestigious universities, including all eight Ivy League institutions. Bergen currently enrolls 13,000 credit students in A.A., A.S., A.A.S., certificate and certificate of achievement programs. Approximately 5,800 students are enrolled in noncredit, ESL or professional courses. The Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools last affirmed Bergen’s accreditation in 2016.