Sylvester E. McKay, president of a North Carolina community college, was named yesterday to lead the 18,000-student Baltimore City Community College.
McKay, 48, takes office next month, succeeding James D. Tschechtelin, who retired this summer after a 12-year BCCC presidency.
Since 1999, McKay has headed the College of the Albemarle, a three-campus school with 3,000 credit and 6,000 noncredit students. BCCC has twice the enrollment and offers 39 associate degree and career programs.
"My mother's goal was that I graduate from high school and not embarrass her," McKay said yesterday as he met faculty and staff at BCCC's new academic center at Reisterstown Plaza.
A native of Raleigh, N.C., McKay has three degrees in psychology from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. He began his career as a school psychologist but migrated to college administration. Before his presidency at Albemarle, McKay was a vice president at Guilford Technical Community College in Greensboro, N.C., and director of research for the 58-school North Carolina Community College System.
Ellestine J. Grant, chairman of the BCCC trustees, said McKay "stood out" from five finalists for the job. "We visited Dr. McKay's campus and talked to people at random," said Grant. "We heard nothing but good things."
McKay said he looks forward to forming partnerships with Baltimore schools, businesses and government agencies.
"I'm going to be working to close the gap between skill levels and emerging occupations," he said. As an example, he said BCCC could train cytotechnologists, people who work with blood products.
McKay and his wife, Sherrye Larkins, a Baltimore native, have an 11-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son.
Operated by the state since 1990, BCCC's main campus is on Liberty Heights Avenue in Northwest Baltimore. It has an Inner Harbor campus and several satellite centers.