Community college system picks Granite State College president as next chancellor

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Jul. 1—CONCORD — Trustees of the New Hampshire community college system announced a new chancellor on Thursday, a further blow to Gov. Chris Sununu's desire to merge state-funded higher education into a single system.

Trustees signed a three-year contract with Dr. Mark Rubinstein, the current president of Granite State College. He takes over as chancellor of the Community College System in September.

In a statement announcing his selection, trustee Chairman Kathy Bogle Shields emphasized the collaboration under Rubinstein between the community college system and Granite State College, which is part of the university system.

Community college students found it easy to transfer to Granite State College, and Rubinstein identified ways for higher education institutions to share contracts, academic pathways and software platforms, Shields said.

"We know that Mark will embrace the CCSNH mission of providing affordable, market-driven, quality education in our local communities," she said.

The announcement came the day that the new state budget went into effect that makes no mention of a merger between the state's two systems of higher education.

When Sununu proposed a two-year budget in February, its centerpiece was a merger of the two systems. It drew some early support; for example from former Democratic Gov. John Lynch.

But many involved in both systems, including former trustees from both political parties, opposed the move. Legislators never put it into the budget bill, which eventually became overwhelmed with topics such as Critical Race Theory, a ban on late-term abortions and tax cuts.

Sununu's office said he remains committed to a merger and issued a statement in his name.

"This merger would have been a win for students, families, and employers across our state," the Sununu statement said. "While it is unfortunate the Legislature chose to not move forward with this 21st century merger, I remain committed to ensuring a sustainable higher education system in our state because the stakes are too high to remain stuck in the past."

According to community college spokesman Shannon Reid, the search had been underway since December. Had the Legislature approved Sununu's proposed merger, trustees would have "adjusted" the search to reflect that, she said in an email.

Four finalists had been under consideration, and Rubinstein will earn an annual salary of $330,000. The contract includes benefits customary for full-time CCSNH employees and a vehicle for official use, including transportation to and from his home.

As president of Granite State College, Rubinstein focused on alignment of academic programs with the needs of the state's workforce and communities, the CCSNH said. He also worked on college affordability

"At the macro-level, demographic, economic and technology trends all point to the need for a more dynamic workforce. At the micro-level, the human level, people's interests and circumstances and needs change. From either perspective, the clear implication is that New Hampshire and its citizens require the support of effective, responsive public postsecondary education," Rubinstein said in a CCSNH statement.

Rubinstein held several positions at the University of New Hampshire before taking over at Granite State College in 2015. They included vice president roles and duties in admissions, financial aid and the university's advising and career center.

CCSNH serves approximately 26,000 students at seven community colleges.

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