Colorado Northwestern Community College appoints new president
School names top pick Russell George to position
January 18, 2011
Colorado Northwestern Community College has a new president, and it's someone familiar to local residents.
Russell George was named president Tuesday afternoon and will begin work Monday.
George is a former state representative, serving Moffat, Garfield, Pitkin, and Rio Blanco counties from 1993 to 2000.
He also has served in leadership roles at the state's Division of Wildlife, Department of Natural Resources and Department of Transportation.
"I'm glad to get to it," George said Tuesday. "I was so excited after being up there last week that I'm ready."
Last week, George visited CNCC campuses in Craig and Rangeley as a finalist for the position.
Nancy McCallin, president of the Colorado Community College System, explained the purpose behind the campus visits.
"At these meetings, Mr. George had the opportunity to present his ideas for the college and attendees were able to ask questions of him," McCallin said. "We also asked for feedback after the meetings and the support for him was overwhelming."
George said the community meetings were instructive.
"There were many questions about how the college would move forward under my leadership," George said. "My philosophy is to listen, learn, and work together with the staff, faculty, and community."
McCallin said George was her first pick.
"He will be a great president for CNCC and we are fortunate that someone of his caliber is so passionate about leading the college," she said.
George, a Rifle resident, said he would begin moving into CNCC's presidential housing in Rangeley this weekend.
"Of course, our main home is in Rifle, as it always has been," George said. "We're not going to move completely, but we will certainly have a full home up there."
For the first few days of his new position, George said he would be meeting with interim president Cliff Richardson, who is CCCS vice-president for finance and administration.
"He'll pass off some of the things he's been working on as interim (president)," George said of Richardson. "There are some tasks that need to be done fairly soon. I think there are some vacancies at the top level that we're working on. That's always a high priority."
Next, George said he'll make the rounds.
"My main interest will be meeting all the staff — getting acquainted as soon as I can, so they can tell me what they're working on, what issues need to be on my radar right away," he said.
Afterward, George said he'll make time to visit classrooms.
"That's where the action is," he said. "I want to find time to do that on both campuses."
Gene Bilodeau, CNCC vice president of administration, said that although the distance between the Rangely and Craig campuses present some "challenges," George will bridge the gap.
"Russ George sees the need to be available to both campuses and the whole community," Bilodeau said. "I would foresee that once he gets settled into the job, he will have a presence here in Craig, just as John Boyd did."
Bilodeau said he supports George's hiring.
"His leadership and management skills are going to be a huge asset," he said.
Bilodeau said George's leadership was evident in the way he handled tough questions during last week's meetings.
"Obviously, the guy is very well educated and has led very large departments," Bilodeau said. "But, when you talk to him, he talks on an every day level. You heard him answer those questions. It was like talking to the guy next-door.
"That will go very big in our part of the state."