New board chairman for City Colleges

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Walter E. Massey | Twitter

The changing of the guard at the City Colleges of Chicago continued Tuesday with the appointment of a new board chairman.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed Walter E. Massey, chancellor of the School of the Art Institute, to serve as City Colleges board chairman and form a team with newly-appointed Chancellor Juan Salgado.

Massey replaces Dr. Charles Middleton, the retired Roosevelt University president whose two-year term as board chairman has expired.

The appointment was announced by press release while Emanuel is in Europe promoting Chicago business in general and technology companies in particular.

The release touted Massey as a “distinguished educator and scientist” with more than 50 years of experience in leading “some of the nation’s most prominent higher education and scientific institutions.”

“I am grateful for Dr. Middleton’s service in helping to implement the reinvention efforts that resulted in a significant increase in the graduation rate and job placement for our students,” said Emanuel.

“Walter Massey’s extensive track record developing young minds, strengthening community ties and creating unique institutional partnerships across the city make him the ideal candidate to support Chancellor Juan Salgado’s efforts to ensure City Colleges students complete their education and succeed in 21st century careers.”

According to City Hall, Massey’s seven-year tenure at the School of the Art Institute has been focused on increasing student scholarships, diversifying the student body and broadening the school’s partnerships across the arts, higher education and business communities.

He was credited with helping to launch the school’s “first-ever major fundraising campaign, Beautiful/Work: The Campaign for SAIC, which has now raised more than $46 million toward its goal of $50 million by June 30, 2018. Massey was appointed to the position of chancellor in 2015.

In March, Emanuel chose Salgado, a prominent Hispanic community leader, to be the new $250,000-a-year City Colleges chancellor under pressure to appoint more Hispanics to leadership positions.

“I am convinced and the board is convinced that I am the person this institution needs at this moment in time. I’m going to be an amazing candidate across the city,” Salgado, CEO of Instituto del Progreso, said then.

Salgado replaced Cheryl Hyman, who announced last June that her tumultuous six-year tenure would end after a one-year transition that gave the seven-member board time to conduct a nationwide search for her replacement.

In announcing Salgado’s appointment, Emanuel established an ambitious goal for his new City Colleges chancellor to achieve: a 25 percent graduation rate by 2019 in a system that graduated just 7 percent of its students when he took office.

The mayor’s goal, if Salgado can reach it, would be a nearly 50 percent improvement from the current graduation rate of 17 percent. But it won’t be the only performance measure by which the boss judges his new, chancellor.

Now, Salgado has a new partner in that effort.

Salgado has already appointed all-purpose mayoral troubleshooter Felicia Davis, who once ran the Public Building Commission, to serve as president of Olive-Harvey College, in part to help jump-start the twice-stalled construction of a $45 million transportation, distribution and logistics center.

The new chancellor has also announced plans to sell City Colleges’ downtown headquarters and establish “teams focused on enhancing the student experience and bolstering student enrollment as well as strategic outreach to addressed the funding crisis” at City Colleges.

He charged that City Colleges has been “shortchanged by $70 million over the last two years” by the state’s failure to “fund student MAP grants this year after significantly delaying them last year.”

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