Sygielski says the
“an answer to a prayer.”
the needs of students, community
You might call it one of his
But when he accepted the presidency six years ago, Rainone didn’t
rest on his laurels. He went right back
to the competencies.
“I used it as a self-check,” he says.
“This is something that has helped me
go from a silo to a much larger view.”
So he looked at the second edition of
the competencies a few years ago and
assessed that resource development and
community work were areas that he
could stand to develop further.
So Rainone thought about keeping
his skills sharp and what the college
needed. Enrollment was dropping.
Students outside the credit programs
were dropping out to take work, but
were leaving before they could be part
of closing the region’s skill gap.
He put these all together and he and
the school’s foundation spearheaded
the second major gifts campaign in
the college’s history. Dubbed “Imagine,
Invest, Inspire,” the campaign aimed
to improve infrastructure and student
access and success.
By mid-2016, Rainone stood at a podium
and announced that the campaign had
raised $4 million, bolstered by a 70 percent
participation rate from faculty and staff,
and 625 gifts and pledges. Forty percent
of donations came from new donors.
The money allowed the college to
launch a Dabney Promise program, to
allow students to attend the college for
free and launch sustainable agricul-
ture and instrumentation technology
programs, responding to local needs,
among other things.
These days, “fundraising makes a
good community college a great community college,” Rainone says.
It’s not that he wouldn’t have
thought to do this without the competencies. But it did push him to think
bigger and broader in support of student success and economic growth of
He’s excited that the third edition
of the competencies provide even more
refined support for college leaders to
improve their skills and their schools
in significant ways.
“Just as bad as we will need presidents
and CEOs, we will need vice presidents
and deans,” he says. “What these
competencies do and what I got excited
about in creating the new version is that
wherever you are on your progression
through leadership, the competencies
explain where you need to be.”
TRANSFORMATION FOR THE FUTURE
For HACC’s Sygielski, who has been a
college president for years, the com-
petencies play a different role in his
life. They do allow for self-evaluation,
he said. But for him, they are actu-
ally part of his formal performance
review. He regularly meets with the
chair of college’s board of trustees
to review the competencies and find
ways to keep stretching his already
Last year, at one of these meetings,
the subject came up on institutional
transformation. That’s not a competency, but it is one of three principles
the competencies are based on. (The
other two are student success and
Like many colleges, HACC, has lost
enrollment in recent years. What changes
would Sygielski recommend to the
Dabney S. Lancaster Community College President