Inauguration of Dr. Yves Salomon-Fernández  GCC president

  • Salomon-Fernández

  • Yves Salomon-Fernández is the 10th president of Greenfield Community College. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO


Published: 5/28/2019 8:45:01 AM

On her drive home from work, or on a walk through the woods outside of her office, Yves Salomon-Fernández will often stop, pull out her phone, and send a picture to her friends. Her text reads: “Can you believe I live in this paradise?”

An effective leader possesses many attributes, yet a few stand out: an awareness of the surroundings, a positive outlook, and an inclination to inspire others.

The 10th president since our college was founded in 1962, Salomon-Fernández has assumed leadership at one of the most pivotal times in the history of higher education — a sector, in her words, which is going through “seismic change” — change that will be permanent.

A researcher, data analyst, teacher, writer, speaker, thought leader, and former consultant with the United Nations and the Bermuda Ministry of Education, Salomon-Fernández maintains an intelligent and dynamic view on the challenges facing higher education coupled with a unifying and uplifting vision for the future.

Salomon-Fernández is working with the college community to come up with new ways GCC can position students to remain valuable to the emerging needs of their future employers, as a growing number of employers are embracing skills over degrees. As more students take gap years, move to part-time schedules, and as birth rates continue to decline, Salomon-Fernández sees GCC leaning into adaptability — a trait that will be pivotal in order to thrive in the changing future of enrollment. As technology and artificial intelligence evolve at lightning speed, the new president is thinking about how to stop preparing students for jobs that will be obsolete and start preparing them for roles that haven’t even been created. And while GCC has always catered to a variety of learners, Salomon-Fernández remains critically aware of our nation’s growing diversity. “When you have a classroom that is academically diverse, that is racially and ethnically diverse, that is diverse in terms of age,” shares Salomon-Fernández, “You have to be even more conscious of the kinds of pedagogies that are effective and can be tailored to different learners.”

Amidst these seismic changes — felt by leaders across the entire sector — Salomon-Fernández’s excitement for higher education, particularly for community colleges, is unwavering. Entrepreneurship, collaboration, and innovation are words Salomon-Fernández uses often.

Under Salomon-Fernández’ leadership, these terms, and what they mean, have become central to conversation around our future. This focus mirrors what we see in other industries: organizations who adopt entrepreneurial, innovative and collaborative ways of thinking and solving problems are better poised for success in periods of growth and change.

“Realizing what we need to change and when we need to change is where we are as a sector,” says Salomon-Fernández. “Higher education has always been a sector steeped in tradition and it’s time to say, ‘How do we embrace and carry the best of the past forward — honoring that and keeping it core in terms of identity, and at the same time, stay open to evolving?’”

This is why Salomon-Fernández is here. With praise for the school’s “intellectual vitality,” “entrepreneurial spirit” and “commitment to student success,” GCC’s new president is committed to preserving and building upon cultural strengths that have preceded her.

“Faculty and staff [at GCC] have a deep curiosity,” shares Salomon-Fernández, remarking on the incredible passion of the student body and surrounding community that has become even more evident since she came on board last August. In her words, GCC’s sense of “care and commitment” and the “well distributed sense of responsibility for the institution,” are some of “the great characteristics of the college that will help it move forward.”

When it comes to values, GCC and Salomon-Fernández are well-aligned. What Salomon-Fernández calls “the deep sense of stewardship across the college” resonates with her own style of leadership, a style based in serving and empowering others.

“Where we are and where we are heading, we haven’t yet been yet,” shares Salomon-Fernández. “It means developing a comfort level with failure and it means being adaptive and it means embracing lifelong learning in a way we never have before.”

“I see working here as an opportunity to also make a difference and to bring together different communities and open doors so that we can all live more harmoniously, understand each other better and also fulfill our full potential as people, and therefore as communities.”

Salomon-Fernández is a leader who sees where we are, understands who we are, and holds a bright vision for all we will accomplish.

She knows our motto, “You belong here,” is a belief she stands by.

On May 30, this is the very sentiment with which the college will officially inaugurate a new president into office. Join us to welcome Dr. Yves Salomon-Fernández.

Elizabeth Solomon, a Greenfield Community College alumna, is the owner of HeartCore Writing in Northampton.


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