P O W E L L, W y o. - Paul Prestwich, vice president for academic affairs at Sussex County Community College in New Jersey, has accepted the presidency at Northwest College, according to an announcement today by the college's board of trustees. Prestwich is expected to assume his new duties by July 1, perhaps sooner.
He will replace Miles LaRowe whose retirement is effective June 30 after five years in the position. While LaRowe uses accrued vacation time toward the end of his contract period, Vice President for Academic Affairs Sher Hruska will serve as acting president, according to NWC Trustee President Jim Vogt of Powell, who noted that the board wanted the transition to be led by someone with a doctoral degree.
"Dr. Prestwich emerged as the candidate of choice to lead Northwest College in our quest for continued growth and excellence," Vogt said, adding that Prestwich is familiar with the rural west, having spent considerable time in northeast Colorado. "We're excited to have made this selection and look forward to working with Dr. Prestwich to assure a smooth transition of the presidency at Northwest.
"We're pleased that the entire college community expressed their desire to have Dr. Prestwich become our next leader. He'll bring new energy and new ideas in continuing to make sure our students are the number one reason for our labor of love."
As vice president for academic affairs at the New Jersey community college, the 41-year-old Prestwich directs three academic deans, two division heads, 46 full-time faculty and more than 230 adjunct faculty for the college which enrolls about 3,700 credit and 4,000 noncredit students. He also oversees the library, learning center, media services, distance education and scheduling.
"I'm excited to have the opportunity to join the Northwest College team," Prestwich said in a telephone interview. "I'm impressed with the academic excellence and high quality of the college.
"It's been great to learn more about the faculty, staff and students, as well as the strength of support that exists in area communities. I look forward to working together to build on and add to NWC's strengths."
Among his primary duties when he arrives are helping ensure NWC's continued accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission which will visit the campus in spring 2011, implementing a campus facilities master plan, contributing to the state's funding formula revisions, and tracking work of a Community College Task Force Planning Study impaneled after the recent session of the Wyoming State Legislature.
Prestwich is being extended a two-year contract with a salary of $150,000 for the 2008-09 year, according to Vogt. Future salary levels will be negotiated with trustees for annual contracts thereafter.
In addition to base salary, NWC's new president will be allowed to reside in Trapper Village West housing for his first two years on the job. When Prestwich moves into his own residence, he'll receive a $900-per-month housing allowance.
Compensation includes use of a college vehicle for all college business, plus for personal business in Park County. Contract terms allow reimbursement for up to $12,000 of documented moving expenses. He will also participate in the college's regular retirement, vacation, sick leave, and medical and life insurance benefit package.
Prestwich, who lives in Tobyhanna, Pa., is in his third year overseeing academic affairs at SCCC in Newton, N.J. He says SCCC is a rapidly growing college with more than 3,700 credit students.
Before moving to the East, Prestwich spent six years at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colo., where he held progressively responsible administrative positions. He served two years in each of three positions: associate dean for business, mathematics and science; dean of arts and sciences and lastly as dean of academic services. While at NJC, he received a teaching excellence award and presidential citation.
He started his education track as a student at NJC, a two-year college which he says is "very similar to NWC in mission and size." He transferred to the University of Northern Colorado at Greeley where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in kinesiology, minoring in psychology. He continued kinesiology studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder and was awarded a master of science degree in that field in 1992. Prestwich's doctoral degree in higher education administration was attained at the University of Pennsylvania in 2004.
Prestwich and his wife, Melanie, have five children, Kieffer, 17; Bowen, 13; Samuel, 12; Elizabeth, 9; and Kate, 5.
Prestwich and two other finalists for the position visited Park County in early and mid-March, meeting with members of NWC's presidential search committee and other faculty, staff and students as well as members of various communities.
Vogt praised presidential search committee members for their diligence through the selection process.
"They worked tirelessly throughout the several-month search process," Vogt said. "Their superb work, along with input from the campus community and many Park County residents, helped ensure that the finest candidate was chosen as Northwest's next president."
Joining five trustees on the search committee were faculty, staff, a student and one representative each from the NWC Foundation and Alumni Association Boards of Directors.