The New Community College of Baltimore's plan to strengthen its downtown business education center has been sidetracked by the sudden resignation of the center's director, who held the job for about two weeks.
Alice Daum Coen had little comment last night on her departure. She said only that she resigned "for personal and professional reasons."
The college's interim president, Dr. James Tschechtelin, said, "She may have thought it was more of an up-and-running center. But it's more a rebuilding job. We've never had a full-time executive director."
Ms. Coen is a former director of seminars and conferences for the Washington office of the Deloitte & Touche accounting firm. She said she had not decided whether to seek that job again.
Her resignation, which she submitted Monday to college officials, comes amid wide-ranging changes at the college. In July, Baltimore gave control of the college to the state government and Dr. Tschechtelin was named to a two-year interim term as president.
The resignation is another setback for the college, which has struggled for years to develop strong ties to Baltimore's business community.
The Business and Industry Center, based at the college's Inner Harbor campus, was created two years ago to bolster that relationship.
During the most recent academic year, the center offered 328 courses and seminars at the college's Inner Harbor and Liberty Road campuses, and on-site at various companies. More than 3,000 people took those courses and seminars.
Despite those statistics -- and the center's prime downtown location -- community colleges in Catonsville and Essex have courted downtown companies more aggressively.
College officials and corporate leaders hoped to change that -- beginning with Ms. Coen's appointment.
The Greater Baltimore Committee, for example, helped the college's search committee and suggested candidates for the job.
"I thought it was the first big step in the college's getting back with the business community," said Carol Hoyle, director of the GBC's higher education programs. "I hope the business community will not see it as another failure" for the college.
The GBC, which includes the Baltimore region's largest companies, will continue to help the college develop its business education center, she said. Referring to the resignation, she said, "It's a blip. It's not a major crisis."
Asked whether he was frustrated by Ms. Coen's resignation, Dr. Tschechtelin said, "That's the understatement of the century."
But he added, "We're going to make it work. I know it will work."
Cynthia Webb, an administrator at the center, has been named interim executive director of the center, he said.
The college will begin to look for a new executive director soon.
Dr. Tschechtelin said he will press for a quick decision on a successor to Ms. Coen but cautioned that even the fastest academic searches take at least 90 days.