Hafner Named New President of MCC

(Bradenton, Fla., April 10, 2008) - Dr. Lars Hafner was selected as the fifth president of Manatee Community College (MCC) by the MCC District Board of Trustees at an April 10 meeting. The vote by the nine-member board was unanimous to offer the position to Hafner.

Hafner is the current provost of St. Petersburg College with responsibility for multiple campuses serving 9,000 students and 400 employees, He is expected to assume his MCC position July 1. He will succeed Dr. Sarah H. Pappas, who retires June 30.

"After a rigorous search, we have found someone we believe can successfully steer the college through a challenging economic climate of state funding cuts and the demands of double-digit enrollment growth. Dr. Hafner has the experience, energy and vision we need to ensure MCC not only remains a top quality institution but will be ready to surge ahead to meet the changing needs of students and the communities we serve," said Steve Harner, chairman of the MCC board.

The board authorized Harner and the board's attorney to negotiate with Hafner to agree on a contract that will be approved by the board at a special session April 16 at 8:30 a.m. at MCC Lakewood Ranch. Trustees agreed to require the new president to reside in MCC's service district.

Trustees cited Hafner's enthusiasm, knowledge of Florida higher education and state government, his alumni status as a community college graduate and his stated desire to make a commitment to the MCC community as pluses. 

A 22-year veteran of higher education, Hafner also served 12 years as an elected state representative from Pinellas County and retains ties with Florida legislators. He describes himself as a collaborative leader who will seek help and input at all levels to support the college's mission.

"MCC is a great institution and I am committed to it for the long term. My heart lies with the community college mission of providing everyone, regardless of age or financial status, an opportunity to succeed," said Hafner.

At SPC, one of Florida's several community colleges offering bachelor's degrees in selected programs, Hafner initiated partnerships with the University of South Florida, Indiana University and Case Western to offer master's and doctorate degrees in areas including criminal justice administration, philanthropic studies and nursing.

Hafner also developed an SPC partnership with the Pinellas County economic development division that resulted in the EPI Center for continuing education. At MCC, Hafner promised he will continue a dialogue with MCC's economic development partners to meet their specific needs.

"We will assure them that MCC is prepared to turn on a dime to develop the programs that businesses need," said Hafner.

In an interview with MCC trustees, Hafner described community college transfer agreements with state universities as crucial to the community college system.

"The chipping away at those agreements at the university level is a key issue to be addressed," Hafner told the MCC board.

Hafner earned a Ph.D. in leadership and education/higher education administration from Barry University, Miami Shores.  He has a master's degree in organizational and political communication from the University of Maryland; a bachelor's from State University of New York at Buffalo, and an associate in arts from St. Petersburg Junior College.

Hafner, 47, and his wife, Jacquie, have two children and presently live in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The MCC board's selection of Hafner marked the end of an eight-month process that began with the announcement last August that Pappas would retire June 30, 2008, after 11 years as the college's fourth president.

Guided by presidential search consultant Dr. Jeff Hockaday, the board conducted a nationwide search and appointed a search committee to review applications. The 19-member search committee was comprised of community members and MCC faculty, administrators, career employees and students. From a total of 35 completed applications, 26 were considered by the search committee before they narrowed the field to 10 semifinalists. Five finalists' names were forwarded to the board.

Hafner was selected from a field of four (a fifth candidate withdrew) following the finalists' two-day visits to MCC campuses and interviews with the trustees.  

Should the board not agree on a contract with Hafner, the board will enter into discussions with Dr. Scott Elliott, the board's second-ranked finalist.

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