CCBC chancellor will leave position at end of school year

2003 report noted strides made during McPhail's Baltimore County tenure

February 22, 2005|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

Irving Pressley McPhail, chancellor of Baltimore County's sprawling community college system for the past seven years, announced yesterday that he will leave his job in June.

McPhail, 55, said he wants to pursue other opportunities and feels he has accomplished his goals at the 73,000-student Community College of Baltimore County. "I think I have pushed this as far as I can push it," he said.

When he took office in 1998, the county's three campuses in Catonsville, Essex and Dundalk had just been merged into a single college and the transition had not been smooth. The board of trustees had fired the previous president, a consultant's report described the college as being in "near chaos," and administration had recently eliminated tenure for new hires.

"We needed a strong leader," said Francis X. Kelly, a former state senator who is chairman of the college's board of trustees and oversaw the hiring of McPhail from a St. Louis community college.

The board was so eager to hire McPhail that they offered him a $135,000 bonus, about one year's salary, if he stayed on the job for five years.

McPhail instituted policies that emphasized what he called a "learning first" philosophy that encouraged student engagement instead of lecture.

During his time as chancellor, the percentage of students who transferred from Community College of Baltimore County to four-year institutions - seen as a key measure of a community college's success - rose.

In McPhail's first year, 11 percent of students transferred to a four-year college after two years and 18.8 percent transferred after three. Those percentages climbed to 11.8 and 20 percent, according to the most recent state data.

James L. Fisher, the same educational consultant who reviewed the school in 1997, issued a glowing report in 2003.

"In virtually every area that counts, CCBC is better now than it was in 1997," said the report, which was commissioned by the college and cost $22,000.

The report found that faculty morale improved at the school, even though overall it remained poor.

Less than half of faculty members believed that McPhail's administration dealt openly with them, and 38 percent said they were satisfied with the chancellor's office.

Kelly said he and other board members would conduct a national search to find McPhail's replacement.

"We're going to miss him. He's done a fabulous job," Kelly said.

McPhail declined to elaborate on his future plans.

"I'm still excited and energized, and I'm considering a number of options and opportunities," he said.

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