SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) entered a new chapter in its 50-year history Thursday with the inauguration of John Cook as its sixth college president.
The installation ceremony at STCC’s Scibelli Hall Gymnasium featured a mixture of pageantry, tradition, and celebration. The event opened with a processional led by the STCC Ceremonial Brass Ensemble, followed by the Bearer of the Mace and more grandeur befitting such formal occasions.
The audience of STCC students, faculty, staff, and members of the community witnessed the presentation of colors, heard a rendition of the National Anthem, and listened to greetings from a variety of dignitaries and members of the STCC community.
After the presentation of the presidential medallion, Cook spoke about the college’s rich history, while looking ahead to the future.
“Springfield Technical Community College carries an incredible legacy, and it is an absolute privilege to champion who we are becoming in this, our 50th year, and during a time of renaissance and innovation all around,” he said.
Christopher Johnson, chair of the STCC board of trustees, praised the new president for his efforts since taking the helm.
“The board of trustees is delighted with its selection of Dr. John Cook as STCC’s president. It has been a pleasure working with Dr. Cook during this academic year as we strive to continue to improve the lives of our students. Dr. Cook has done a great job in his inaugural year to keep STCC moving forward as the Commonwealth’s only ‘technical’ community college,” Johnson said.
Brian Tuohey is president of the Collins Companies, sponsor of the inauguration. He also is a longtime member of the STCC Foundation board of directors and its past president. He noted, “I have been very impressed with Dr. Cook’s commitment to and involvement with the STCC Foundation and our new board. His enthusiastic leadership and direction have been key components in re-energizing this very important asset, both for our college and our students.”
Cook’s induction office falls during the 50th anniversary of the founding of STCC. He replaced Dr. Ira Rubenzahl, who guided the college for 12 years. Cook took over the reins to become the sixth president of STCC on Aug. 1, 2016.
Before the inauguration ceremony, the STCC Foundation hosted a VIP luncheon that included business community partners, community stakeholders, and representatives from other education institutions. A 50th Anniversary Gala is planned for tonight at the Springfield Marriott.
Prior to his appointment, Cook was vice president of Academic Affairs at Manchester Community College (MCC) in New Hampshire. In his role as chief academic officer, he was responsible for the administration, leadership, and oversight of all academic programs and faculty at the college. Successes at MCC included working with faculty to revise developmental education, creating early-college pathways, and injecting energy into both a comprehensive program review and assessment process.
Cook also worked for 12 years at Granite State College, one of four institutions that constitute the public university system of New Hampshire; Granite State is known particularly as the leading provider of public online education in the state. He served in multiple roles, including assistant dean of faculty, faculty coordinator, and research and evaluation coordinator for a child-welfare training partnership. For a number of years, he taught Research Methods and Educational Psychology part-time to Granite State undergraduates.
Cook has long held a deep interest in the relationships between communities and their higher-education collaborators. He was nominated and selected in 2010 to be an Emerging Engagement Scholar by the Engagement Scholarship Consortium, whose goal is to work collaboratively to build strong partnerships between communities and colleges and universities.
His service includes membership on the boards of the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County, Partners for a Healthier Community, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts.
Cook holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and anthropology from St. Lawrence University, a master’s degree in community/social psychology from UMass Lowell, and a Ph.D. in education (curriculum/instruction) from the University of New Hampshire.