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Bucks County Community College president resigns, citing personal reasons

Felicia Ganther will step down Dec. 14


The president of Bucks County Community College announced her resignation Thursday, saying she is reexamining her personal and professional life. Felicia Ganther’s last day will be Dec. 14.

The recent deaths of three close colleagues and cancer diagnoses of two siblings, said Ganther, “has had a profound impact on me.”

The 51-year-old said in an interview, the events caused her to consider, “what do I really want to do, what do I want to accomplish? I could be called out of here anytime.”

As her siblings face their medical challenges, Ganther said, “I want to walk with them. I want to be emotionally and mentally available. It’s weighing very heavy on me.”

Her choice to resign with a year remaining on her contract with the Newtown-based college, she said, “was the best decision for me.”

Ganther has faced a number of challenges in her short tenure at BCCC, including a vote of no confidence in her leadership from some members of the teachers’ union.

The vote was considered largely symbolic as it did not affect her employment. Some faculty said it only represented about one-third of the staff, while others, both union and non-union did not vote, according to published reports. Many said they continued to support the president, following the May vote.

John Sheridan, head of the teacher’s union, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

An audit earlier this year found “material weakness” in the college’s finances, which, this news organization reported, centered on what accounting executives called a “fairly significant” number of adjustments needed to correct misstatements, and the relatively large dollar amounts involved in those adjustments. The audit triggered the need for the community college to file a corrective action plan with the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

In the wake of the audit, the college hired a Harrisburg-based accounting firm to perform a follow-up assessment of the community college’s accounting and finance operations. A draft report, concluded that “basic functions such as monthly reconciliations and financial statements are not being prepared” and cited “lack of communication and accountability” as playing a role in the problems.

While some may think those issues prompted her resignation, Ganther said, “they had nothing to do with my decision.”

“The ‘material weakness’ in systems and structure were present before I got to the institution,” said Ganther. “I don’t own that.”

Tom Jennings, chairman of the college’s board of trustees, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Regarding the no confidence vote, the president said, “It is what it is. Some community college presidents see that as a badge of honor, because you’re shaking things up. I don’t see it as that. It’s people expressing themselves; looking from the outside in.”

In a letter to the “Centurion Family,” Ganther highlighted her accomplishments. Among those, she said, are “two record years of philanthropic giving – the most funding received in the history of the college and two record years of securing solicited and unsolicited grants totaling more than $2 million each year.”

Additionally, she said, community partnerships were created and enhanced, an “unprecedented and growing partnership with all K-12 Bucks County school districts,” was built and a strong relationship with legislators and local elected officials was cultivated, among other successes.

“I love Bucks,” said Ganther. “If you cut me, I bleed blue. The student body is fabulous. I’m excited about the structure initiative I put in place to create one of the best college experiences they could have.

“My prayer is those structures and initiatives stay in place.”

Ganther is a board member of the Bucks County Herald Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that oversees this newspaper.

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