Gittell to head N.H. community college system

Ross Gittell will reach out more to business and industry when he takes over as the new chancellor of the Community College System of New Hampshire, the economist told NHBR Monday, shortly after his appointment was announced.Gittell, a professor at the University of New Hampshire’s Whittemore School of Business and Economics, will take over the job from interim director Bonnie Newman on Feb. 1.The board of trustees undertook a national search, and Gittell said he did not initially seek the job. But after the board approached him, he was excited about the possibilities of the position and pursued it.Gittell, an oft-quoted economist who frequently testifies in front of various legislative committees, has consulted for and sat on the boards of numerous institutions and businesses, but he has yet to run one as an executive. However, he did note that just running his classes – which this year consist of some 670 students – require some administrative skills. Besides, he said, this new position will give him a chance to implement many of the ideas he has been advocating for a long time.”That’s the attraction,” he said. “I always felt strongly about the issues of economic opportunities of people of low income to join the middle class and for those in the middle class to stay there.”Gittell will take over a system that encompasses seven community colleges with a total of 27,000 students. Although the colleges were originally thought of as mainly technical schools, over the last decade they have emphasized their role more as feeder schools to four-year colleges, particularly those in the state’s university systems.Gittell said many of the skills needed for a job in industry are the same as continuing to a four-year education. And job opportunities are increasing for mid-level workers, as they shrink for the high school dropout or the Ph.D. student.Nationally, such jobs now represent 38 percent of the job market — and they make up over 40 percent in New Hampshire, Gittell said.”We have to make sure there are students trained to fill those positions,” he said.The key for community college is to work with business and industry to figure out what will be needed in the future, said Gittell, who paraphrased hockey great Wayne Gretsky’s formula for success — not to skate where the puck is, but where the puck is going to be.For New Hampshire, that will be more targeted training for advanced manufacturing and for the allied health fields, as nursing and other professionals take over many of a traditional functions of an M.D., he said. — BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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