Salomon-Fernandez, GCC’s third president finalist, visits campus


Recorder Staff
Published: 4/27/2018 9:07:54 PM

GREENFIELD — Yves Salomon-Fernandez says she is ready to make the move from New Jersey to western Massachusetts to become the new president of Greenfield Community College.

GCC is in the midst of determining who will take the place of President Bob Pura as he retires this year, and Salomon-Fernandez was the third of five finalists to visit the college for a day to meet students, staff and alumni.

In addition to morning meetings with various staff, she attended an afternoon open forum to discuss her plans for GCC if she were chosen for the position.

Salomon-Fernandez has been the president of Cumberland County College in Vineland, New Jersey since March 2016, but she says she is looking for a change.

Two other candidates, Christopher Gilmer and Arlene Rodriguez, spent the day at GCC two days earlier this week, and the last two candidates, Julie White and Carla Oleska, will be there next week. White will spend Monday, April 30, at GCC and Oleska will be there Wednesday, May 2.

GCC staff gathered in an upstairs conference room Friday afternoon to chat with Salomon-Fernandez, learn what she would do for the college and ask questions.

A good fit?

The candidate immediately expressed her appreciation for Franklin County and admiration for GCC as a college.

“Greenfield is a beautiful place,” she said. “And Greenfield Community College is a leader.”

She went on to commend its expansive internship program and high graduation rates.

“It’s not just a great place to be, but the campus is beautiful — impeccable,” she said.

Bragging rights

“In terms of values, we have a lot in common,” she said, referencing her current institution and GCC.

She commended GCC’s work in the community, especially its well-respected agricultural programs, but urged the school to brag a little.

“You guys are a leader in so many areas, but you’re not bragging about it,” she said. “You need to tell people what you have.”

She encouraged GCC to examine their use of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) so that people searching the internet for programs can easily find those related to GCC and see what the school has to offer.

The candidate also was impressed with the amount of GCC students who strive to be civic leaders, or become civic leaders.

“There’s a lot to brag about here,” she concluded.

Questions and concerns

One student in the audience asked Salomon-Fernandez about her intended relationship with larger agricultural schools in the area. She responded that she would like GCC to be a collaborator, not a competitor.

“We don’t have to be in competition with them,” she said.

Salomon-Fernandez also advocated for free or affordable childcare for students who are trying to balance education and raising a child. She also encouraged the college to collaborate with community partners that may have something to offer.


Something Salmon-Fernandez says she has “a lot of pride in” is installing gender-neutral bathrooms at CCC despite some negative feedback.

“For me, it’s about equity,” she said, explaining that as a minority herself, she feels especially sympathetic toward other minorities. “I’m embracing and inclusive.”

She mentioned that CCC has received training to better interact with LGBTQ students.

“If you can’t have that level of inclusion on college campuses, why do we exist?” she said. “I am an ally.”

Salomon concluded the open forum telling the audience how her entire family truly enjoys Franklin County and all it has to offer, so making the move from New Jersey to western Massachusetts would be a welcome change.

“This is about values, and yours align with mine,” she said. “This is a good fit.”

Reach Christie Wisniewski at: or 413-772-0261, ext. 280.

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