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LCC inaugurates fourth president

April 27, 2001
Paula Diane Cunningham, newly appointed president of Lansing Community College, addresses the crowd Thursday at her inauguration at the Lansing Center, 333 E. Michigan Ave. in Lansing. —

LANSING - More than 300 people attended the inauguration of Lansing Community College’s fourth president, Paula Cunningham, on Thursday at the Lansing Center, 333 East Michigan Ave.

“As most of you know, being a community college president was not my plan,” Cunningham said during her inaugural speech. “But I am grateful for this journey and all the people along the way who have shaped me, encouraged me, refused, challenged intrigued and inspired me.”

Cunningham serves as president to 16,000 students at the state’s first community college to offer an online degree program.

“Today, we find ourselves at the dawn of a new era,” she said. “Never before has the community college been more vital to the livelihood of a community than now. We must be positioned and continually repositioned to serve the learning needs of our changing community.”

Education and government officials such as Lansing’s School District Superintendent E. Sharon Banks, MSU President M. Peter McPherson and Lansing Mayor David Hollister gathered in the festive ballroom to support the MSU School of Journalism graduate and wish her luck in her elected position.

“I think you have an outstanding president and I think you’ve made a great choice here,” McPherson said to supporters of Cunningham and the LCC community. “I could make a long list of what this college and MSU have done to make a stronger community.”

Several community leaders, including chairman of LCC’s Board of Trustees, Brian Jeffries, congratulated Cunningham and spoke of her leadership and dedication.

“And if asked about her toughness, she will reply that it’s on par with a junkyard dog,” he said. “Truly this is a time of celebration for the entire LCC community.”

LCC’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted Cunningham into office May 15, 2000, shortly after the school’s third president, James Anderton IV, resigned after less than a year in office.

LCC English Professor Dale Herder attended the inaugural ceremony to support Cunningham and to watch the “tradition of the inauguration and the passing of the baton.” But, Herder also remembers the president who resigned before Cunningham took office.

“Fundamentally the Board of Trustees and the former President Anderton disagreed in regard to philosophy,” Herder said. “The disagreements unfortunately became public in a manner that was disadvantageous to the college, our students and this community.”

Although some people in the LCC community say the resignation of Anderton spurred tensions between the administration and the students, many, like Jeffries, say they are looking forward to Cunningham’s leadership.

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