GCC president Pura announces retirement

  • PURA

Recorder Staff
Published: 8/31/2017 8:07:44 PM

GREENFIELD — At the start of his 18th year as president of Greenfield Community College, Bob Pura has announced he will be retiring from the helm that he’s held since 2000.

In a speech to faculty and staff Thursday, Pura let his colleagues know that this academic year will be his last.

“It is now time for me to move on — I think I am ready to graduate,” Pura said in his speech.

The move to step down is not a complete surprise to faculty, he said, noting that he’s been contemplating the appropriate time to retire from the college.

“We’ve been talking about it for a while and it just seems like the right time,” Pura said later on Thursday. “I’ve seen so many friends and colleagues here who have retired and created a life for themselves, that it is as fulfilling and meaningful as the work here has been, so I look forward to that.”

In what was an emotional day for Pura, he began the formal conclusion to his nearly 40 years as an educator. The college will now begin a year-long search for its new president, a process that Pura said he will remain arm’s length from, as the college’s board and a committee decide on its future leader.

“The person privileged enough to serve as the next president of GCC will have the extraordinary opportunity to work with each of you and to build on all of your successes,” Pura said in his speech.

Addressing faculty and staff, Pura first addressed the natural disaster in Houston, discussed the college’s mission where “hate has no place,” reflected on the state of the college’s tight budget and declining enrollment, nothing the college has “always been challenged by the rural and small economies of scale.”

Pura recapped accomplishments of the college like working toward a sustainable future, working with the Opioid Task Force and with the courts and jails, building renovations and $14 million raised by the GCC Foundation in his time at the college.

“In addition to all of the wonderful collaborations and connections to the external community — too numerous to mention this morning — you have created a sanctuary for students and each other — from the attack in 9/11; to the 2008 recession, the sudden passing and loss of dear colleagues, and figuring out the big issues and challenges of the day — we came together for each other,” Pura said in his speech.

A graduate of community college himself — the first in his family to attend college—– the son of an immigrant, he attended schools in Miami. He would go on to attend University of South Florida, St. Thomas University, Miami and then receive a Ph.D. in educational administration from the University of Texas in Austin.

Pura has been leader of the Massachusetts Community College President’s Council and most currently sits on the Commission on Academic Student and Community Development for the American Association of Community Colleges. He is on the Baystate Health board of directors and on the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Higher Education Commission.

Despite all this experience, Pura cites a specific source for his knowledge as president.

“It really was my students that taught me most about teaching,” Pura said later in the day. “It has been the good folks here at GCC, the faculty, the staff and the students who have taught me how to lead a college.”

“I can tell you in no uncertain terms that the people in this community have taught me how to live,” Pura added. “And to be a part of a community that cares deeply about others.”

Reach Joshua Solomon at: jsolomon@recorder.com

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