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Second pick gets nod after Adams rejects offer

By Moneth Deposa SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, May 27, 2011) – The Northern Marianas College Board of Regents officially named Dr. Sharon Hart as the next president of the college at a tense board meeting yesterday that saw the attendance of over 50 individuals, mostly faculty and college employees.

Hart, the board's second top pick, had asked for the board's reconsideration in a letter to the college on May 5-a few days prior to the reconsideration request sent last May 9 by top candidate Dr. Christa Adams, who recently rejected the offer after almost three weeks of negotiation.

Board chair Juan T. Lizama signed yesterday a two-year contract for the new president effective July 5 in the presence of vice chair Elaine Orilla and board counsel Jesus Borja. Lizama said the offer indicates no amendment and provides $80,000 annual pay and other benefits.

It was on Wednesday when the board received Adams' decision but Lizama admitted that he has been communicating with Hart since two days ago.

"We never closed the door to any candidate because we're still operating under the resolution. If we will start all over again, we will never have a president and to be accredited, we need a president," said Lizama after the meeting.

He said he was in the U.S. mainland when the college received Hart's letter and was only told about it after his return. "I didn't know that Dr. Hart had sent the letter and during those times, I was still in negotiation with Dr. Adams. But this time, as soon as I received the rejection from the candidate, we started the communication."

Lizama, on behalf of the regents, said they have high expectations for the new president: "Great leadership, great communicator, great management, and great program developer. I know Dr. Hart is a very experienced individual when it comes to running a college."

Hart has been a president of North Dakota State College of Science, president of Middlesex Community College in Connecticut, and vice president for academic and student affairs at North Central Technical College in Wisconsin.

Lizama confirmed that Hart had once applied for the NMC presidency and had been selected among the top candidates but she later withdrew her application.

"Dr. Hart possesses an extraordinary resumé, with many years of proven academic and executive leadership. We firmly believe that she has the qualifications necessary to lead the college to unprecedented heights in providing high quality postsecondary education to our students," said Lizama.

He commended interim president Lorraine T. Cabrera for serving the college in the last 18 months. A formal appreciation, he said, will be scheduled soon.

Prior to the voting of members, honorary board member Dr. John Griffin tried to raise an issue against Hart's selection, saying the incoming president-like Dr. Adams-also has some "negative background" at her former colleges.

Lizama, however, cut him off, saying he was not allowed to speak due to a conflict of interest, Griffin being a previous applicant for the NMC presidency.

The board then unanimously voted to choose Hart.

After the meeting, Lizama told Saipan Tribune that he allowed Griffin to question the board's selection during previous meetings because he was not aware that the faculty senate president had applied for the position, along with the interim president.

Now that a new president has been named, Lizama is confident that the college will reaffirm its accreditation soon.

Lizama described the supplemental report due this month as an "excellent report" and gave credit to the hard work of the faculty and administration people, led by the interim president, who worked to complete the document.

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