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Goldey-Beacom extends president’s contract nearly a decade

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PIKE CREEK – Goldey-Beacom College President Colleen Perry Keith received a vote of endorsement after the college’s board of trustees extended her contract by seven years.

Headshot of Colleen Perry Keith

Goldey-Beacom College President Colleen Perry Keith

The extension, which began Jan. 1 but was announced by GBC this week, will keep Keith at the college located off Limestone Road through 2030, marking her longest tenure at an institution in her career.

Board Chair Mark Olazagasti said that Keith has “made tremendous progress since taking the helm in July 2019.”

“She has masterfully led the college through an unforeseen pandemic while ensuring our students, faculty and staff were equipped with the tools they needed to continue learning and working remotely,” he said in a statement announcing the new contract. “It was a quick turnaround when the college launched fully remote classes. Everyone stepped up to support the response.”

Keith, whose original contract wasn’t set to expire until June 2022, said she was surprised the board approached her about such a lengthy extension, but she didn’t take long to sign on.

“You just know when it’s a good fit and that’s where you want to stay,” she said, noting that her son and parents are within a day’s drive as well, helping to convince her and her husband Barry to make Delaware a long-term career stop.

As part of the new contract, Keith will be entitled to a three-month paid sabbatical to work on a mutually agreed upon academic project connected to the college’s strategic plan after the 2025 spring semester.

“As I look at the initiatives that are part of our Strategic Plan process and where the college needs to go in order to be solidly implementing 21st century majors and degrees with skills that employers need, it’s going to take us some time to get there,” she said.

Keith arrived in Delaware from Pfeiffer University, a Methodist college in North Carolina, in July 2019, becoming the first woman to lead the small private, four-year GBC in its history. She quickly infused new energy into the school that has long been known to locals for its strong Master of Business Administration program.

When the pandemic struck, she pushed college leaders to seek accreditation for fully online degree programs, a first for GBC. It was recently approved to offer its Master of Science in finance and its Master of Arts in counseling psychology programs through this format.

Keith said that the college was still exploring how to competitively position its MBA program online, as many higher education institutions currently offer the popular degree program.

“The MBA market online is kind of a glutted market right now,” she said. “We need to figure out what is it that would make it distinctive so that ours would stand out and get that market share that we need.”

Meanwhile, Keith is also looking forward to the day that she can complete an entire academic year that hasn’t been challenged by a global pandemic. Right now, about 150 students are living on campus and attending classes in person, with hundreds more attending via videoconference. She expects the hybrid model to continue to be utilized through the start of the fall semester, but hopes to soon welcome more students back.

“With face-to-face, hybrid and remote learning, we’ll offer something in every mode,” she said.

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