Judith Huntington was officially inaugurated as the 13th president of The College of New Rochelle in a ceremony this afternoon held at The Wellness Center at the College’s New Rochelle campus. The inauguration was attended by faculty, alumni, staff, students and leaders from the educational, business and political community.
Huntington’s speech was a sober assessment of the challenges facing the school in a challenging economy and a changing technological landscape. While thanking all the right people and reviewing the school’s many assets, she delivered a stark assessment of the school’s future approach to educating its students.
“The model will change over the next decade,” she said citing economic factors and technology. She then explained how the unique, simultaneous collapse for markets for equity, real estate and debt had created a financial meltdown that would impact post-secondary institutions over the coming years. The decline in the equity market hit the school’s endowment fund, the bursting of the real estate bubble is making it more difficult for families to pay for college due to a loss in personal net worth and the ability to take out home equity loans to pay for tuition. The drying up of credit in the debt market has made taking out loans more difficult.
No wonder the College of New Rochelle chose their Chief Financial Officer to be their next President. The school noted in a press release that she brings to her new role as president a unique financial perspective built on more than 25 years of experience in the business world.
She began her tenure at The College of New Rochelle in 2001 as Vice President for Financial Affairs with full responsibility for all fiscal issues involving the College. Prior to joining The College of New Rochelle, she worked for 15 years with the accounting firm KPMG LLP. One of her first clients at KPMG was The College of New Rochelle, serving as outside independent auditor for the College for about 10 years.
The elevation of the Vice President for Financial Affairs at CNR stands in stark contrast to the situation across town at Iona College where her counterpart was arrested by the FBI based on an indictment charging she stole over $800,000.
Huntington addressed the faculty and staff by declaring that the school will have to become more “student-centered”, embrace e-learning opportunities and broaden its geographical reach to address growing skepticism about the value of a college education.
Mayor Noam Bramson made a brief appearance on stage, calling the College of New Rochelle a pillar of our community.
“This is a better City because the College of New Rochelle is a central part of it,” said Bramson.