HCC inaugurates new president

LINDA CONNER LAMBECK lclambeck@ctpost.com
Connecticut Post Online

Article Last Updated:10/12/2007 06:09:54 PM EDT

BRIDGEPORT — Ten months after taking the job, Anita T. Gliniecki formally became Housatonic Community College's fourth president Friday, standing on a makeshift platform atop the information desk in the college's spacious atrium.

The inauguration, witnessed by more than 200 guests, also set the stage for the Housatonic Community College Foundation to announce it has launched a campaign to raise $1 million for the college.

Barbara Johnson, president of the foundation, said the decision to launch a major fundraising campaign was made two years ago, just before Janis Hadley, Housatonic's last president, announced her plans to retire.

"It was very scary for us, but we found out quickly, Anita was ready to step in and get moving," she said.

Johnson said Gliniecki's vision for the college enabled the foundation to convince Cindy Bigelow, co-president of the R.C. Bigelow Tea Co. in Fairfield, to serve as the community chairwoman, and to raise $600,000 through the silent phase of the fundraising effort. Now, the foundation plans to go out and raise the rest.

Gliniecki said the money raised will provide students with extra financial assistance, tutoring and mentoring. It also will enable the college to expand its honors program, help preserve the HCC art collection and bring special exhibits to the college, such as the Rembrandt exhibition now on display in the Housatonic Art Gallery.

Gliniecki, a Michigan native who started her career as a nurse before turning to higher education, came to Housatonic as its new academic dean in 2003. She was appointed interim president when Hadley retired.

Gliniecki said she was impressed that at Housatonic, the faculty and staff take time to listen to students and treat them as individuals with unique educational needs. She is excited about changes coming to the college.

HCC is in the midst of constructing a $45 million addition — to be called Beacon Hall — that will double its physical plant and allow it to offer more courses when it's completed next fall.

Even as the college grows, Gliniecki pledged to continue to focus on helping students succeed and working with local school districts, four-year colleges, businesses and the community.

"The education of each of the 4,475 individuals who registered for the fall semester at HCC affects not only the 11 towns that HCC directly serves, but the state and country," she said.

As part of the ceremony, Gliniecki was presented with a medallion symbolizing her presidential office.

Soon-to-retire Commissioner of Higher Education Valerie Lewis called Gliniecki part of the new leadership taking over the state's higher-education institutions. In the front row of the audience, sat Gliniecki's husband, two daughters, sister and brother-in-law and two college roommates.

Also at the ceremony was Aaron Best, a student representative, who said he first met Gliniecki when she was a dean at the college and he was waiting for a bus outside the building.

"I didn't know who she was. She asked me how my semester was going and said if I had any problems, I could come and see her. I thought that was nice. She wasn't even my professor," he said.