The Middlesex Community College Board of Trustees voted unanimously to select Philip Sisson, MCC’s Provost and Vice President of Academic & Student Affairs, as the next President of Middlesex. The MCC Board will bring their vote to the Board of Higher Education and Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos E. Santiago to approve the selection at a meeting to be held later this month.
“I am deeply honored and also very humbled to be selected by the MCC Board of Trustees to become the college’s fifth president,” Sisson said. “I want to thank them for their support and for their trust in me to lead our college forward. I came to Middlesex because I wanted to be part of this storied institution with its history of excellence and visionary leadership. It is a reputation I intend to uphold and further build upon in the coming years. Middlesex is an exceptional institution and I know first-hand that it has at its core an extraordinarily dedicated, talented and innovative faculty, staff and administration who are fully committed to the mission of the college.
“I eagerly look forward to working closely with all of them as we continue to provide the highest quality education and support services that we can possibly offer to our amazing students who deserve nothing less and who inspire us every day. I fully comprehend the critical role the college plays in the communities we serve, especially in our host communities of Bedford and Lowell. I look forward to creating a renewed level of engagement with our communities focusing on equity, access, opportunity, support, and success for all of the students we serve, as well as leading a team that will affirm Middlesex Community College as a national leader in community college education for our next half-century. I am confident our greatest days are yet to come!”
Sisson has over 30 years of diverse and exemplary college leadership experience in the areas of campus administration, strategic planning, academic and student affairs programming, fiscal management, resource development and business, community and K-16 partnerships – all with a clear and consistent focus on equity, access and student success.
After earning a bachelor’s in Communications, Theater and Secondary Education and a master’s in Counseling, both from Rhode Island College, he completed coursework in Higher Education Leadership from the University of Connecticut/Storrs and went on to enroll in the University of Massachusetts/Boston EdD program in Higher Education Administration (ABD).
“Phil is a trusted campus leader within the college community and has a strong state and national reputation for developing innovative programs to support assessment and pathways for student success,” said Dr. James C. Mabry, MCC President. “He knows the college inside and out and is respected by the faculty and staff he leads. His work advancing the equity agenda has been groundbreaking and will continue to help the college better connect with its diverse student body.
“Phil and I will work together for the next two months – as we have over the last six-and-a-half years – to keep the college on track and work for a smooth transition. I am positive that Provost Sisson is the right person to move the college forward at this time.”
The final three candidates for the position included Sisson; Dr. Lisa Armour, the Vice President for Assessment, Research & Technology at Santa Fe College; and Dr. Julie Leidig, the Provost & Academic/Executive Officer for Northern Virginia Community College.
“On behalf of the entire Board of Trustees, I want to congratulate MCC Provost Phil Sisson on his selection as the next person to lead Middlesex Community College into its second half-century,” said Trustees Chairman James Campbell. “I have had the distinct honor of working with all four of the past presidents, and I am confident Phil has the leadership and vision to make sure Middlesex continues to provide an affordable and equitable education for our students, and a vision that works closely to support the communities we serve. Phil knows the landscape, and he knows the talent that our faculty and staff bring to the table to help the college meets its strategic goals, and I am confident he will foster those strengths moving forward.
“My goal when this process began last summer was to make sure that the search for the fifth president of Middlesex was going to be one that was transparent, professional and inclusive, and one that listened to the voices of both our internal and external communities. Our Search Committee brought forward what I believe were five qualified finalists for consideration by the college community. The breadth of experience brought by those candidates allowed our college community to consider several opportunities for the college moving forward. I want to personally thank the Search Committee and the MCC staff who have helped usher this entire process through since last Fall. Their support all along the way helped ensure the integrity of this search and provide us with an open and methodical process that has yielded a solid choice as the next leader for this college.”
Sisson developed a passion for teaching and serving adult learners and for the unique mission of community colleges at Bristol Community College (BCC), where he served for six years as the Director of Student Support Services and Evening Administrator in the Division of Continuing Education. After serving for a year in an interim promotion as the Assistant Dean of Continuing Education and Community Services at BCC, he accepted a position as the Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer at the Edward J. Liston Campus at the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI), the largest community college in New England.
Serving for seven years at CCRI, Sisson was promoted twice to the positions of Dean of Workforce Education & Lifelong Learning and the Dean of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences. Sisson moved next to the Cape where he served as the Dean of Language & Literature, Mathematics, Natural Sciences & Life Fitness at Cape Cod Community College. Within a year he was selected as the Vice President for Academic & Student Affairs for three years.
For the past 11 years, Sisson has been serving in his current position at MCC. In this role, he has acted as a change agent and collaborative leader – working with teams of colleagues across the institution – to establish and maintain a number of noteworthy and innovative academic, student affairs and enrollment initiatives designed to better serve students. His focus on student pathways and outcomes; workforce development and growth; and inclusion and equity has continued to position Middlesex as the flagship community college in the state.
Leading college-wide efforts for both the comprehensive and the interim five-year accreditation reports to NEASC/NECHE, the college continues to be highlighted in workshops and events as an exemplar in accreditation standards and outcomes. Sisson has also worked to enhance the college’s regional and national profile through engagement with premier higher education organizations and successful applications to highly selective grant projects and awards including AAC&U’s Roadmap to Success Leadership College, NILOA’s Excellence in Assessment Award, NEBHE’s High Value Credentials Project, AAC&U’s Guided Pathways and Equity in Learning project, Complete College America’s Guided Pathways recognition of academic pathways and program maps, and most recently AACC’s Equity in Transfer Initiative in partnership with the University of Massachusetts/Lowell.
From Sisson’s early years as a classroom instructor at the Wheeler School in Providence, RI to his more than 25 years of adjunct experience at five higher education institutions, Sisson is first and foremost an educator. Throughout his career, he has focused on student access, student success, student completion and equity, spending the last three decades championing the transformative power of a community college education. With strategic vision, entrepreneurial leadership, and open communication, Sisson has committed his career to creating a diverse and inclusive community where all students are able to learn, grow and succeed.
Middlesex is celebrating 50 years as an institution as of September 2020. Sisson is the fifth president of the college, joining President Mabry, Dr. Carole A. Cowan, Evan Dobelle, and James Houlihan.
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