Salomon-Fernández stepping down as GCC president in August

  • SALOMON-FERNANDEZ

Staff Writer
Published: 6/23/2021 2:04:46 PM

GREENFIELD — After three years in the role, Dr. Yves Salomon-Fernández has announced plans to step down Aug. 15 as president of Greenfield Community College.

“I’ve had an opportunity to work with some extremely brilliant students — students who are going to change the world, who are passionate about issues related to environmental justice, climate change and the future of work. … That’s been my favorite experience at GCC,” she said.

In a letter to the college community, Salomon-Fernández wrote that after “three intense years advancing our institution” — including a year in a pandemic — she has accepted a position as senior vice president at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU).

“It was a move to step back a little bit,” she said. “I bring 150 percent to everything I do, and (GCC president) is a very public role. We’ve gone through a pandemic, social change and racial issues. … All of those things made me reflect on what kind of balance I want in my life. This is an all-consuming position. My family and I decided I take a step back from it.”

The position at SNHU is remote, she added, meaning she and her family will still be around and involved in Franklin County.

“We’re not planning on leaving,” Salomon-Fernández said. “We’re very involved in a number of organizations … and we intend to continue our work in that regard.”

On Wednesday, Robert “Robbie” Cohn, chair of GCC’s board of trustees, said her announcement on Tuesday evening came as a shock to him. Still, he and the board of trustees wish Salomon-Fernández “all the success she deserves.”

“She got the ship steered in the right direction,” he said. “It’s unfortunate she’s not going to see how it sails.”

According to Cohn, the board met Tuesday night in executive session to figure out the best path forward.

“Right now, I’ve got about six weeks to find an interim president,” he said. “Once we have that in place, then we can go onto a national search.”

In a statement from GCC, Cohn said Salomon-Fernández served the college well.

“She understood and appreciated the important role GCC plays in Franklin and Hampshire counties and beyond,” he said. “She stepped in to continue its mission of providing access to education and workforce training to best serve the needs of residents and employers in the region.”

Prior to GCC, Salomon-Fernández served as president of Cumberland County College in New Jersey and interim president of MassBay Community College, according to her bio on gcc.mass.edu.

“One of the things I’m super proud of is I’m leaving the college in a far stronger financial position,” she noted. “I’m very proud of the team that we have.”

Salomon-Fernández also remarked on the success of the multi-generational mentoring program OASIS (Older Adults Seeking, Inspiring and Serving) program, which was created in fall 2019; and how the college became part of the inaugural cohort for Project Vision of the National Science Foundation.

She was also involved in the development of the five-year strategic plan, she said.

“I’m leaving with a lot of strategic plans for every area of the college,” Salomon-Fernández said. “I think my successor will see that there are plans that they’ll be able to execute to take the college into future.”

As she prepares for her exit, Salomon-Fernández said she is grateful for the support of the community over the years.

“My family and I are delighted to remain in Franklin County,” she said. And we’re grateful that my new role allows me to continue to be part of this community.”

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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