Blinn College Selects New President

By: Blinn Marketing and Media Relations, Jeff Tilley Email
By: Blinn Marketing and Media Relations, Jeff Tilley Email

Dr. Harold Nolte Jr., a 31-year veteran of higher education and administration, was selected tonight by the Blinn College Board of Trustees to serve as the College’s 14th president. The selection concludes a five month national search that drew more than three-dozen applicants. Nolte will assume the position of president Nov. 1.

“This is the first time in the history of the College that so many people were involved in the process of selecting a president, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the results,” said Douglas Borchardt, chair of Blinn’s search committee and a member of Blinn’s Board of Trustees. “The selection committee had a very strong group to select from, and we’re excited to welcome Dr. Nolte aboard.”

As the search drew to a close, the board identified three final candidates. After one finalist accepted another position, the remaining two candidates were Nolte, and Dr. Edward E. “Ted” Raspiller, provost of Blinn’s Brazos County campuses. The College announced the finalists Aug. 17, which surpasses the standard 21-day waiting period schools typically observe when announcing only a sole finalist.

In a move to strengthen the campus’ decision-making in the organization and to recognize the growth of the Brazos County campuses, the board elected to name Nolte as college president and to elevate Raspiller to campus president, Brazos County. Hiring both a college president and a campus president are new to Blinn, but according to Board of Trustees President Atwood Kenjura, the bold move made perfect sense.

“We saw a rare opportunity to seize upon Dr. Nolte’s experience in a multi-campus setting and strengths in student leadership and also a chance to capitalize upon Dr. Raspiller’s established ties to community, K-12, university and business partners in Brazos County,” Kenjura said. “At the end of the day, it was a win-win situation for Blinn College.”

Since 2001, Nolte has led Navarro College’s Ellis County campuses in Waxahachie, Texas, where most recently he was president. He oversaw a campus of more than 4,237 students expanding at nearly double digit growth. Blinn’s Fall 2011 enrollment topped 18,156 students, the largest enrollment in the College’s 128-year history.

“I am honored to be part of such a fine institution as Blinn College and look forward to working with the excellent staff and students,” Nolte said. “My family and I are excited about becoming part of the community.”

Prior to his latest service at Navarro College, Nolte was vice president for student development at Kilgore College, district vice president for student services at Edison Community College in Fort Myers, Fla., and he held a previous appointment at Navarro College as vice president for student services.

Nolte’s prior service includes dean of student services, Panhellenic advisor and director of student activities. He earned his Ed.D. in educational leadership from Mississippi State University in 1985.

Raspiller served as provost of Brazos County campuses from 2010-2011 and had previously held executive positions in college leadership, including as departmental chair at Virginia’s Old Dominion University, and interim president and vice president at Wisconsin’s Waukesha County Technical College. His previous service to Blinn included four years as dean of technical and workforce education, from 1999—2003. He earned his Ed.D. in leadership and educational policy studies from Northern Illinois University in 1998.

“I am challenged by the opportunity to move Blinn forward,” Raspiller said. “I have no doubt Dr. Nolte and I can put together a winning team for our students and our stakeholders.”

About the search: The search for Blinn’s 14th president began in May 2011 with the appointment of a 15-member search advisory committee of Blinn faculty, staff and alumni and stakeholders. The search committee was chaired by Douglas Borchardt, member of the Blinn Board of Trustees. The search firm Gold Hill Associates of Asheville, N.C. assisted throughout the process, helping to organize the search and identify and recruit potential candidates.

Also in May, more than 120 interviews were conducted with faculty, staff, students, alumni and other constituencies to begin developing a profile of desired presidential traits that would guide the duration of the search and the selection of the finalist. The profile was approved by Blinn trustees, including such preferred traits as: experience in a multi-campus setting; understanding the role and mission of a diverse, comprehensive community college; a commitment to a strong student life program; a successful record of promoting partnerships and coalitions with business, government, public schools, senior colleges, universities and other groups.

The position was officially posted June 2 and an advertisement was posted shortly thereafter in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Borchardt wrote monthly updates in Blinn’s “Connection” newsletter and encouraged input from stakeholders throughout the process.

The search committee met in July to review and narrow down the pool of 35 applicants, with the goal of submitting a final list of 3-5 candidates to the board of trustees by August/September.

Blinn’s search committee met in early August to conduct interviews and submitted a list of 3 candidates to the Board. The board approved three finalists on Aug. 17. Each candidate was chosen based on their high quality administrative and academic experience and their overall fit with unique culture of Blinn College. One candidate accepted another position, leaving Nolte and Raspiller as the two finalists.

Bios were made available for public viewing Aug. 25, before the open forums were announced Aug. 31. The forums, Sept. 6 and Sept. 8, gave each finalist an opportunity to speak before the College’s largest two campuses and address questions in a format available for viewing online or in person.

The board met Sept. 13 in closed session to discuss the two finalists and review survey data received from the public, faculty and staff, but adjourned without further announcement until the regular meeting Sept. 20, at which time the decision and structure for the College was decided.

Nolte and Raspiller will assume their new roles Nov. 1.

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