Charles Dassance, a former college president from Florida, was chosen as Colorado Mountain College's interim president in an unanimous decision by the CMC Board of Trustees. Dassance beat out two other candidates for the position. Since beginning the job in the end of February, Dassance has been learning quickly about the college, its students and employees and the communities it serves.
"The role of an interim president, in general, is to prepare the college for its next CEO," he stated in a press release. "My role is not to restructure the college but to bring stability to college operations. This does not imply that we should not address issues that need to be addressed, nor that we should stop innovating and improving."
Choosing one person out of the three candidates was a difficult decision. CMC Trustee Ken Brenner told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent of Dassance, "I believe he was the most effective in talking about how he would work closely with our board and the staff, and will be capable of dealing with the instabilities and uncertainty that exists in some people's minds during this interim period."
In 1996, Dassance was hired as president of what was then known as Central Florida Community College in Ocala, Fla. Over the next 15 years he led the college's transformation into prominence and record enrollment. Among the initiatives he oversaw there was the introduction of bachelor's degrees, something that CMC introduced last year. After Dassance retired in 2011 from the renamed College of Central Florida, he was honored with the title of president emeritus.
Dassance was also known in Ocala for saving the Appleton Museum of Art, which was brought under the auspices of the college, as well as for his community involvement and commitment to providing workforce opportunities.
"He put the community in community college," said Frank Rasbury, a former College of Central Florida trustee, in an article about Dassance on Ocala.com.
Active in community affairs, Dassance has served in numerous capacities supporting economic development, public policy and health issues. He has been a recipient of many awards and distinctions, including the Distinguished Service Award from the Florida Association of Colleges and Universities, and the President's Award for Professional Excellence from the Florida Association of Community Colleges.
Dassance previously served community colleges in New York, Maryland, Virginia and Kentucky, in addition to Florida. He holds a bachelor's degree in biology from Grove City College, a master of arts from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of Virginia.
The previous president, Stan Jensen, resigned from his position Dec. 27 and was awarded a $500,000 severance from the trustee board. Jensen's resignation agreement has not been made public by college officials.
During the interim period, the CMC trustees will conduct a nationwide search for a long-term candidate. Details of how the search will be conducted will be determined over the next several months.
The Glenwood Springs Post Independent contributed to this story.