Blue Mountain Community College board members voted unanimously Monday to hire Dennis Bailey-Fougnier as the college’s next president.
Bailey-Fougnier, the seventh person to hold the position, emerged from a pool of 44 applicants and four finalists.
The veteran administrator comes to BMCC from Colorado where he grew up on a farm, a cow-calf and sugar beet operation owned by his family. He most recently worked at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction as vice president of community college affairs and chief executive at Western Colorado Community College. He led efforts to reverse declining enrollment at Western Colorado by rebuilding, adding and expanding programs.
“Dennis brings a strong background in community colleges, and the ability to develop and foster relationships with the community,” said board chair Chris Brown. “We are excited to bring his expertise and leadership to BMCC as we enter this new chapter.”
Bailey-Fougnier (pronounced four-near) himself attended a community college. Later he earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Oregon, a master’s in education from Wichita State University and a doctorate in community college leadership from Oregon State University.
During his time at the UO, he got to know Pendleton during frequent trips there with his two best friends, who lived there.
At a public forum last month at the college, Bailey-Fougnier shared his leadership philosophy and vision for the college. To answer a question about his leadership style, he quoted Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do,” Jobs once said. “We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
BMCC’s new president said he, like Jobs, understands his role.
“I’m not the smartest person in the room,” Bailey-Fougnier said. “I’m good at building a team and staying out of their way.”
He said he would look at creative ways to grow the college, such as social media platforms, and explore how to increase the number of Native American and non-traditional students. He would push for a formal agreement between BMCC and Eastern Oregon University where financial aid could be used at both institutions. He plans to cultivate numerous relationships in the community. He said he has a passion for bringing education to rural, first-generation and underrepresented students.
At the forum, Bailey-Fougnier didn’t duck questions about his resignation from his last job in January. He said the decision came after Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster asked him to fire two of his best community college employees after they took President Foster to task at a community meeting.
“It was a matter of ethics,” he said. “I felt like what I was asked to do was not right. I stepped aside.”
Bailey-Fougnier said he looked forward to the opportunity of guiding BMCC.
“I am honored to be the new president of Blue Mountain Community College,” Bailey-Fougnier said. “I am very excited to join the exceptional team at BMCC and to work with them and the community to enhance the educational opportunities for our students. I am looking forward to working with the community to find new avenues to grow our economy and workforce.”
The board selected Bailey-Fougnier over three other finalists including Anthony Rosilez, executive director of the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practice Commission; Jeff Sherman, assistant director for Oregon State University Extension Service and George McNulty, vice-president of student affairs at Colby Community College in Colby, Kansas.
Connie Green will continue to serve as interim president until Bailey-Fougnier begins May 1.
The board made the selection after multiple interviews and considering feedback from faculty, staff, students and community members. During the March 13 meeting, board members will consider compensation contract details.