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Education professional Dunton named new NHTI president

NHTI has named Dr. Susan Dunton, an educational professional with more than three decades of experience, as its new president.

The board of trustees for the Community College System of New Hampshire unanimously approved her nomination, NHTI announced last night. She replaces Lynn Kilchenstein, who stepped down in December after 10 years as president. Stephen Caccia, vice president of student life, had served on an interim basis.

“Dr. Dunton is committed to academic excellence, innovation and collaboration with the other community colleges in New Hampshire to broaden access and strengthen career opportunities for students, and to lead NHTI during a period of rapid change and significant opportunity,” CCSNH Chancellor Ross Gittell said in a statement announcing Dunton’s presidency.

Dunton, who will be paid $166,700 annually, was most recently an education consultant with Ayers and Associates in Arlington, Va. Her early focus will be on growing enrollment, enhancing operational performance and promoting programs that support a strong regional and state economy, NHTI said. Keeping NHTI affordable will be another focus. This spring, NHTI announced a 5 percent tuition reduction for the upcoming academic year. Dunton will also work with the whole community college system as it zeroes in on increasing access and enrollment to prepare more residents with 21st century skills and strengthen and grow the state’s workforce.

“I am deeply honored to become a part of NHTI’s rich history, and genuinely eager to engage in the life of the college and the region,” Dunton said in a statement. “The faculty and staff at NHTI are dedicated to providing students with extraordinary educational experiences across the college’s academic disciplines, and it is our goal that our graduates will carry that energy forward in the professions and industries they move on to serve and lead.”

Dunton arrives at NHTI at a time when educational institutions face a fluid and challenging landscape, said Paul Holloway, chairman of the CCSNH board of trustees. “The community college system and the state of New Hampshire are gaining a highly qualified individual who will ensure that NHTI is positioned to meet the needs of students and the 21st century economy,” Holloway said.

Dunton’s experience in college administration, academic affairs and student services spans three decades. Her resume includes leadership positions at Lesley College and the Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., Bethel University in Tennessee and Fontbonne University in Missouri.

In April, a search committee composed of NHTI faculty, staff and students and representatives from the business and civic community named three finalists for the post. The other finalists were Howard Davis, director of e-learning for the Academic Consortium for Global Education in Carefree, Ariz., and James Ahern Jr. of Saxis, Va., who most recently served as vice president for academic and student affairs at Eastern Shore Community College in Melfa, Va. The three finalists visited with members of the NHTI community and held public forums at NHTI’s campus. The selection committee was co-chaired by Manchester Community College President Susan Huard and Jeremy Hitchcock, CEO of Manchester-based tech company Dyn.

Dunton can capitalize on momentum carried over from Kilchenstein’s tenure at NHTI, which is the largest of the state’s seven community colleges and grew considerably under her leadership.

Kilchenstein led the college through a 2007 rebranding campaign and led a three-phase expansion and facilities upgrade for the school’s health programs. The student population peaked in 2010, when 6,685 students took courses at NHTI.

“As NHTI’s motto expresses, we are all teachers, we are all learners. This is the sense of collective learning and the energy that makes a community college like NHTI great, and enables it to play an essential role for its students and region,” Dunton said. “My sincerest thanks to the board of trustees and Chancellor Gittell for the trust they have invested in me and the opportunity to serve.”

Dunton earned a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of Connecticut and a Master of Education in student personnel services from the University of South Carolina. She attended the management development program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

(Iain Wilson can be reached at 369-3313 or iwilson@cmonitor.com.)

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