Community college two-step? Howard County: HCC unnecessarily extends process of choosing successor to Burrill.

September 03, 1997

LET'S GET THIS STRAIGHT: Howard Community College trustees have appointed an acting president to lead the campus until they choose an interim president to serve until they select a permanent president.

This is one step too many in the process of choosing a leader to replace Dwight A. Burrill, who served for 16 years at the west Columbia school before his retirement took effect Monday. Worse, it is a waste of time and money.

There is no need to have two people serving in acting and interim capacities -- terms that are usually synonymous.

The job of acting president went to Henry Linck. He might not feel so flattered under the circumstances. As the college's No. 2 administrator, he certainly appears to be a reasonable choice for the job of running the college, at least during a transition.

But trustees apparently feel otherwise. They believe it will take six months to a year to find a permanent replacement. Board members have told Mr. Linck that although he is in charge of the 5,000-student school, he soon must relinquish the job to another short-timer.

Mr. Linck was appointed to the second-in-command position of vice president and dean of instruction in January. One would think that a key qualification for that job was the ability to take control of the school in the event of an emergency.

Dr. Burrill has not left Columbia, and he has told HCC board members that he would be available if needed. His knowledge should help a skilled administrator get through roadblocks in the budget process. Perhaps HCC could contract with Dr. Burrill on a consulting basis until a more permanent leader is chosen.

Instead, the HCC board decided to pay the Association of Community College Trustees Presidential Service additional, unnecessary money to find an interim president.

The Baltimore school board recently hired an interim school superintendent, but his job is to begin making major changes in a troubled system without worrying about how they'll affect his long-term status.

That atypical arrangement helped bolster faith in the management of the city public schools. In HCC's much different case, however, it only erodes confidence.

Pub Date: 9/03/97

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