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Op-Ed: Search for New Gateway President Must Be Free of Local Interference, Agendas

The following is submitted to The River City News by Margaret Thomson, former director of marketing & communications at Gateway Community & Technical College.
 
Before retiring in January 2015, I worked with Ed Hughes, retiring president/CEO of Gateway Community and Technical College, for nine years.
 
Dr. Hughes’ well-earned retirement is a great loss for Gateway and higher education in Northern Kentucky. Thanks to his tireless energy and constant devotion to student success, Dr. Hughes inspired the transformation of Gateway from a collection of insular technical schools into a comprehensive community and technical college nationally recognized for excellence.
 
Dr. Hughes and the team he challenged to “dream big” in 2001 succeeded beyond their greatest expectations. Enrollment quadrupled. A new campus emerged in Boone County. The Edgewood Campus expanded. The Urban Metro Campus is anchoring a rebirth in downtown Covington. A slew of new, career-oriented, employer-focused majors were added. Most importantly, Dr. Hughes led faculty, staff, and students in an arduous but successful process to gain regional accreditation from the prestigious Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
 
 
Subsequently, Dr. Hughes forged innovative partnerships with Northern Kentucky University, Thomas More College, and Mount St. Joseph University, smoothing the way for students to transfer seamlessly to these and other senior institutions. Transfer opportunities for Gateway students exploded, and Gateway graduates are welcomed at four-year schools throughout the state and the nation.
 
Dr. Hughes leaves behind an indelible legacy of excellence, but he would be the first to say the college is more than one individual, and so it is. The culture of quality he instilled will continue, and the team he built will persevere.
 
It is imperative, however, that the Kentucky Community and Technical College System conduct an exhaustive and independent national search for his successor. The search must be free of local interference by those whose hidden agendas waste resources and detract from the goal of delivering a superior education to students. Gateway deserves a young, energetic, visionary educator with a record of distinction and innovation at the community college level.  
 
The community will be watching.
 
-Margaret Thomson