DWC looks to move forward with new president

The new president of Daniel Webster College in Nashua, has the experience, judgment and direction to move past the turmoil that has divided the campus since its sale last year to ITT Educational Services, said the company’s president, Kevin Modany.Michael Diffily, named as the successor to interim President Nadine Dowling in December, took office in January ready to lead expanded educational programs, new courses of study and possible campus expansions, among other changes to help the college move forward under ITT’s guidance, said Modany, who served on the college’s board of directors, which led the recruitment process.The school, saddled with significant debt, was purchased by the for-profit ITT in 2009. Staff layoffs have raised tensions across the campus in the months since, as has the decision to phase out the school’s long-standing flight operations program.”Transition periods are always difficult, but we’re past a lot of that,” Modany said. “We’ve set the stage for moving forward, turning the page on the next chapter, and Dr. Diffily is the person to lead the school in getting to that next level.”Weighing more than 25 applications from across the country, the college’s board of governors selected Diffily based in part on his mix of experience in for-profit and traditional college models, Modany said.Diffily, who worked most recently as a vice president at Lincoln College of New England in Southington, Conn., includes on his resume stints at for-profit schools, as well as traditional institutions, such as Brown University.Having earned his doctorate in higher education at Boston College, Diffily was associate dean of the graduate school at Brown and was vice president/dean of student affairs at Labourne College in Boston before moving on to Lincoln, formerly known as Briarwood College.”I think having an understanding of both the traditional academic world and the proprietary academic world is very, very important, and he’s been successful at both,” said Modany.Further opportunitiesBeyond his experience, Diffily’s perspective on education best fit him to the college’s goals, Modany said.Throughout his career, Diffily has emphasized academic quality and student successes, Modany said, and he understands the opportunities that exist at Daniel Webster College.In the years ahead, Diffily will work with other college leaders to expand their course offerings. Administrators took some criticism earlier this year when they announced plans to terminate the flight operations program, one of its premier courses of study.But moving forward, they’ll look to implement and extend more business, technology and other “career-based” programs that will offer better career prospects, Modany said.”We want to look at where there are opportunities for men and women to gain the skills and credentials necessary to pursue a professional path,” he said, declining to elaborate further on the nature of the programs. Administrators will look at “which programs present opportunities for jobs, opportunities for well-paying jobs.”Such new and expanded programs could lead to further learning opportunities for students, Modany said. Administrators could implement a broader range of online courses and seminars for students. And for students on campus, the college’s physical plant could expand as well, either with additions to the facility or with new satellite campuses around the region, Modany said. – JAKE BERRY/THE TELEGRAPH