Regents select new president for Frostburg State University

March 29, 2006|By ARTHUR HIRSCH | ARTHUR HIRSCH,SUN REPORTER

Jonathan C. Gibralter, who stepped up fundraising and helped transform the reputation of a small four-year college in Long Island, has been named president of Frostburg State University, the University System of Maryland's board of regents announced yesterday.

A native New Yorker, Gibralter, 49, showed "an extraordinary record of accomplishment" as president of the State University of New York at Farmingdale since he assumed that position in 2001, said regents Chairman David H. Nevins. The board voted Friday to appoint Gibralter, who is expected to begin at Frostburg on Aug. 1.

"He has turned that institution's reputation around, turned it into a very popular, very successful institution," Nevins said. He offered glowing praise for Frostburg President Catherine R. Gira, who is retiring after 15 years, and said that Gibralter "would take the campus to a higher level of achievement and put the campus in a position to grow."

Nevins and other board members said they were particularly impressed with Gibralter's success building relationships with members of Long Island's business community, involving the college in local economic development efforts and cultivating those contacts for fund-raising.

They said they hope to see a similar effort in Western Maryland, where Frostburg State is considered an economic engine.

"He's been able to be a change agent across a broad array of activities," said William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland. "He brings a lot of energy and dynamism to his position. I think it's going to be a very good match for Frostburg."

Gibralter's new school will be a much more expensive operation, even if the number of students does not suggest so.

With 5,200 full-time undergraduate and graduate students, compared with the equivalent of about 4,700 undergraduates at Farmingdale, Frostburg's yearly operating budget is $80.6 million, compared with Farmingdale's $30 million.

Frostburg is stronger on liberal arts than Farmingdale, which emphasizes applied programs in business and technology.

Kirwan said Farmingdale had raised about $400,000 in its entire 90-year history when Gibralter arrived. During Gibralter's nearly five-year tenure, the school has raised $4 million and embarked on a $10 million campaign.

Regent Orlan Johnson of Bowie said he sees Gibralter as someone who can play a role in "work force development" and become a part of the "think-tanking" on economic development. "I think he's a tremendous leader," Johnson said.

For his part, Gibralter said he was not looking for a new job when he spotted the Frostburg advertisement late last year in the Chronicle of Higher Education. He said he liked the description of the college and the fact that it has a graduate school.

"The campus has a long history and a very fine reputation," Gibralter said in a telephone interview from New York. "I think the college is in a position where the development of new programs on the campus is extremely important."

Asked how colleagues might describe his leadership style, Gibralter - who holds a doctorate in human development from Syracuse University and a master's degree in counseling psychology from New York University - said, "I think they would describe me as someone who is very visible on campus, someone who wants to collaborate with them. ... My style is to reach out to people and ask them what they think."arthur.hirsch@baltsun.com

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