Vice Chancellor Thomas Cleary named interim president.
By Kyle R. Cotton
Northeast Lakeview College President Craig Follins has been moved to special projects administrator at the district level, Chancellor Bruce Leslie announced Nov. 2.
In a memo to the faculty and staff of Alamo Colleges, Leslie wrote, “I regret to inform you that Dr. Craig Follins has left the position of president of the college.”
Follins has been president of the district’s newest college less than two years and the fifth president in the district to leave their college’s top post in the last three years.
Follins joined the district in March 2014 after the college’s first president, Dr. Eric Reno, retired in January 2014.
Follins was chosen by Leslie from four finalists who visited the campus and answered questions in open forums.
Follins was president of Olive-Harvey Community College in Chicago before becoming Northeast Lakeview’s president and has previously worked in Victoria and Houston.
Leslie has named Dr. Thomas Cleary, vice chancellor for planning, performance and information systems, the interim president of Northeast Lakeview.
“Dr. Cleary is well-prepared to step in as he served very well as the interim president when Dr. Reno retired,” Leslie wrote in the memo. “While it may be unsettling to lose a key member of the team as we take the final steps to accreditation, I want to assure you the college will have the excellent leadership required to achieve a successful accreditation outcome.”
After Reno retired, Cleary served as interim president until Follins came on board.
“We will have time to focus on the selection of the next president of Northeast Lakeview College after the accreditation visit in February 2016,” Leslie said in the memo. “My hope is to have a new president on board no later than August 2016.”
During Follins’ tenure, the college was able to win its first accreditation visit from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, which is scheduled for Feb. 22-25.
The college, established in 2005, has been seeking accreditation since 2007.
Leo Zuniga, associate vice chancellor of communications, said that Follins has been moved to special projects administrator, a position that did not exist in the Alamo Colleges’ 2014-15 annual budget staffing summary, which lists every position and employees’ salary for the fiscal year.
Zuniga said Leslie is the only one who could comment on Follins’ new position because it is a “personnel matter.”
Leslie has not returned phone calls from The Ranger.
The Ranger was unable to reach Follins for comment.
Kathleen Labus, director of public relations at Northeast Lakeview, would not comment on Follins’ sudden move but praised the new interim president.
“Having Dr. Cleary is a great asset to us as we approach our accreditation milestone with our first SACSCOC visit coming in February,” Labus said. “Dr. Cleary is familiar with our accreditation process and our culture here at Northeast Lakeview as he’s helped us as both adviser and his short time filling in as president for Dr. Reno when he retired.”
Labus noted that Cleary conducted a town hall meeting Tuesday with Northeast Lakeview’s faculty and staff to ease concerns with the sudden change. She said the session went well.
Cleary said it was a “future oriented” agenda at the town hall, focusing on where the college is headed rather than where it has been.
“The Faculty and staff were welcoming and supportive,” Cleary said.
“They are a really great group of engaged professionals that continue to keep student success as their number one priority.”