SARANAC LAKE - Steve Tyrell was officially installed as the sixth president of North Country Community College at an inauguration ceremony Friday.
The event, held inside the Sparks Athletic Complex gymnasium, featured remarks by State University of New York Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and a keynote address by Tyrell, who took over as president about nine months ago.
"We are a community of faculty and staff who deeply believe in human potential, as it is the real keystone to our success with our students," he said. "As one faculty stated to me so well recently: North Country Community College is not a community of educators who are overly focused on who is walking through the door, but more so we are a community of educators excited about the prospect of what we can do to help our students achieve success and their full potential. Our students know this to be true.
North Country Community College President Steve Tyrell speaks at his inauguration ceremony at the Sparks Athletic Complex Friday afternoon.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Morris)
"Inaugurations focus on presidents but they truly are all about celebrating the college community. I'm honored to service North Country Community College in this capacity."
Formal inauguration ceremonies are a long-standing SUNY tradition. The last one at NCCC was held more than two decades ago for former President Gail Rogers Rice.
In his opening remarks, NCCC Board of Trustees Chairman Gerald Blair called the ceremony a historic occasion for the college. He noted that delegates from colleges across the state traveled to Saranac Lake for the event, including St. Lawrence University, Paul Smith's College, Alfred State College and Hudson Valley Community College.
A large number of local and state elected officials attended, too; among them were Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau, Keene town Supervisor Bill Ferebee, state Sen. Betty Little, Assemblywoman Janet Duprey and Assemblyman Dan Stec. Representatives from local nonprofit organizations and businesses, like Stephanie Ratcliffe of the Wild Center and Chandler Ralph of Adirondack Health, were also in attendance.
Blair said Tyrell, in his short time at NCCC, has proven to be an effective leader.
"Over the last nine months, Dr. Tyrell has worked closely with the board on many strategic and organizational issues," Blair said. "Dr. Tyrell's energy level, his result-oriented leadership style and his clear commitment to this college are all hallmarks of a president who is clearly understanding this interesting enterprise called higher education."
Tyrell said NCCC has been busy implementing a variety of new initiatives. He said the college, municipal leaders and private investors have "embraced a college municipal development approach" known as the College Town Concept.
"In a nutshell, it involves co-locating college academic programs, housing and student services in downtown areas, thus creating a corridor of economic development between the current locations and the new locations downtown," Tyrell said. "When the College Town Concept is applied to municipalities in the North Country, private investors rehabilitate or build new downtown facilities and are the owners of those facilities."
Tyrell said the model, as it's being implemented in the North Country, keeps the facilities on the tax rolls. The first such effort is happening in Ticonderoga, the location of one of NCCC's three campuses; the other two are in Saranac Lake and Malone.
In Ticonderoga, the college will launch a new downtown housing project next fall. He said a local baker already has plans to open a store next to the new student housing.
In Malone, NCCC has formed a public-private partnership to rehabilitate a "historic centerpiece" in the downtown area, although Tyrell said he can't publicly discuss details of the plan yet.
The college also has plans for a new housing development in Saranac Lake that Tyrell said fits well with the community's comprehensive plan.
Tyrell said the college is also looking to re-establish its hockey team and has launched a new environmental science program. He also announced plans for a new academic program to train boat mechanics, something he said ties into the college's academic roots.
The college has also completed a new strategic plan and a five-year financial plan, Tyrell said.
In her remarks, Zimpher said Tyrell's experience will "serve to strengthen and grow this campus to even greater excellence.
"He wants to be here, and you can't buy that," she said.
In closing, Bob Brown, a professor emeritus at NCCC, compared the college to a nearly finished jigsaw puzzle before Tyrell arrived.
"The last piece of that puzzle is President Tyrell, and you fit here, and you complete the puzzle," Brown said. "He's not the kind of leader that you work for. He's the kind of leader that you work alongside of and share the project together. And that's the kind of person we need."
Contact Chris Morris at 891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.