Lincoln Trail College Names Finalists For President

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Mar 01, 2021

Lincoln Trail College has named the three finalists for its next President. Dr. Kathleen Curphy, Dr. Zahi Atallah, and Mrs.Tona Ambrose will visit the college’s campus this week.

Curphy currently serves as Vice President of Academic Affairs and Student Learning/Chief Academic Officer at Shawnee Community College. She also served as their Interim President from 2019-2020. Prior to that, she was the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs/Chief Academic Officer at Delgado Community College, the Vice President for Instruction/Chief Academic Officer at Metropolitan Community College, the Vice President for Instruction/Chief Academic Officer at Lake Washington Institute of Technology, and the Provost/Chief Academic Officer at Minnesota State Community and Technical College. Curphy also served as the Campus Administrator for Moraine Park Technical College, the Vice President of the Accelerated Learning Programs for the Learning Strategies Corporation, the Vice President of Customized Training and Workforce Development at Anoka-Hennepin Technical College, the Acting Dean and Assistant Dean of Continuing Education at Maple Woods Community College, and the Administrator of Continuing Education at Iowa Valley Community College. She earned a Masters in Student Personnel Services from the University of Northern Iowa, an Ed. S. in Human Services/Industrial Arts and Technology from the University of Central Missouri and a Ph. D. in Higher Education Leadership from Capella University.

Atallah is the founder of IncludED Consultants, which provides educational institutions with training and consulting for inclusivity enhancement advising, universal design for learning, design, and assessment of student learning outcomes, and program review design, STEM and CTE education, and Workforce Development. Prior to that, he served as the Vice President of Academic Affairs at Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville, Wisconsin. Before his position at BTC, he was the Dean of Advanced Technology and Applied Science at Harnell College in Salinas, California. Additionally, Attallah was a Research Assistant at Washington State University and an Associate Researcher in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Wisconsin. He earned a degree in Agricultural Engineering at Holy Spirit University in Kaslik, Lebanon, a Master of Science in Plant Pathology from the American University of Beirut, and a Ph. D. in Plant Pathology from Washington State University.

Ambrose currently serves as the Director of College Access for Lincoln Trail College. In this role, Ambrose has developed services that assist prospective students with the post-secondary college and career transition process, and she works strategically with other LTC faculty and staff to ensure current students are achieving their academic and career goals. Additionally, Tona has organized a professional learning community for area guidance counselors and conducts on-campus professional development workshops to encourage partnerships, support, and collaboration that will strengthen relationships between LTC and the K-12 community. Prior to working at LTC,  Ambrose was the Project Manager for College Access and Co-Director of Pre-College Summer Enrichment Programming at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.  Tona served as a liaison between the university and nineteen high schools across the state to build bridges and college access awareness to support diverse individuals’ higher education aspirations, many of whom were first-generation students. Ambrose was responsible for program development, campus ambassador leadership training, financial management of budgets, ongoing assessment and evaluations for the pre-college summer programming that brought hundreds of students to campus over eleven years and increased their vision for a successful life after high school. Tona earned an Associate of Science: Physical Therapist Assistant degree from Vincennes University. Ambrose earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from Grand Valley State University and two Master of Education degrees in Educational Technology and Adult and Higher Education from GVSU. Tona is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Education, Policy, Organization, and Leadership from the University of Illinois.

Illinois Eastern Community Colleges Trustee Barbara Shimer served on the committee that selected the finalists. She says there were more than 60 applications for the position. From there, the committee narrowed it down to eight for the first round of interviews. After that, they reduced the pool to the three finalists who have been invited to come to campus.

“We are very happy with the process,” says Shimer. “They all have amazing education backgrounds and experience in different areas.”

Shimer says the committee is looking for a candidate with good experience, knowledge, and charisma, and they want someone who will connect to the community. “We hope they will have a special relationship with the area. We want them to bond with and become a part of the community because we believe the President’s role in the community is huge. We need to have someone that will keep moving Lincoln Trail College forward in the area and keep the area moving forward as well.”

In addition to that, Shimer says another thing they looked for in candidates is someone that will be very student-centered.

The three finalists will tour the campus and the community, meet with faculty and staff, meet community leaders, and meet with the other Presidents in District 529 before interviewing with the Board of Trustees. 

Dr. Curphy’s visit to Lincoln Trail College is Monday, while Dr. Atallah and Mrs. Ambrose will visit LTC on Tuesday.

LTC is seeking a new President to replace Dr. Ryan Gower, who became the Chancellor of Illinois Eastern Community Colleges in May of 2020. Mr. Roger Eddy has been serving as the college’s Interim President since October of 2020.