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Swanger attends last FM meeting

JOHNSTOWN — To cap off the career of retiring Fulton-Montgomery Community College President Dustin Swanger, the Board of Trustees concluded Swanger’s final meeting as head of the college with a career retrospective presentation.

Swanger who has led the college for 13 years announced his retirement in January effective July 31, concluding a 33 year career in higher education, planning to get involved in politics while pursuing other career interests after moving to Tampa, Florida with his husband Evan Ladd where they recently purchased a home.

The FMCC Board of Trustees and State University of New York Board of Trustees approved the appointment of college Provost and Vice President of Student Affairs Gregory Truckenmiller as acting president beginning Aug. 1.

During Thursday’s board meeting when Truckenmiller was called to deliver the monthly academic affairs report he instead opened a PowerPoint presentation titled, “Looking back on 13 years of Dr. Dustin Swanger’s presidency.”

“I planned something special for this evening,” Truckenmiller said from the head of the board room. “I prepared a little retrospective on Dr. Swanger’s career, in particular I’m going to highlight areas in which Dusty has been involved, either initiated or taken a personal interest in academic affairs.”

“This is in no way an exhaustive or summative list,” he added before detailing accomplishments from each year of Swanger’s career at FMCC beginning in 2006 and running through the current year.

“In Dusty’s first year at the college he got right to work,” Truckenmiller said. “He jumped right in and worked on expanding our nursing program and right away, and this is a theme you’ll see throughout, was involved in developing partnerships outside of the college and getting the college involved in the community.”

In just his first year on campus, Swanger focused on expanding FMCC’s nursing program through partnerships with local hospitals, partnering with SUNY Canton to offer four-year programs, establishing online programs and reviving the school’s leadership academy with the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Future years saw Swanger seeking to improve student success by establishing the freshman year experience course, instituting hybrid online and on campus courses, establishing e-tutoring, implementing new student information systems and financial aid software and introducing new academic division chairs.

To improve the experience of students Swanger worked to upgrade classroom furniture and facilities, establish band and choir classes, construct a cleanroom on campus, implement a new computer lab, open a nursing simulation lab, partner with HFM BOCES to open the first PTECH and establish a number of other programs and organizations on campus through a variety of state and local partnerships.

“One of the things that Dusty stressed throughout his career is you can’t be afraid to try, you’ve got to take risks,” Truckenmiller said enumerating each of the once new concepts, programs and partnerships that Swanger endeavored to help establish.

In the latter years of his career Swanger helped launch the annual TEDxFMCC speaker series with the Regional Chamber of Commerce, diversity and inclusion day, training for Montgomery County Department of Social Services clients, a certified alcohol and substance abuse counselors program, apprenticeship programs with the Lexington Center, Beechnut, Townsend Leather and Electro-Metrics, a micro-credentialing system and just this year a new program in entertainment technology developed with Proctors Theatre.

As he concluded the career retrospective Truckenmiller thanked Swanger for his transformative impact on FMCC as the board rose to offer the outgoing president a standing ovation.

“Dusty we just want to thank you for your vision, your support, for your guidance over the last 13 years, it’s meant a lot,” Truckenmiller said.

Swanger then returned the sense of gratitude to Truckenmiller and the board that in recent months honored the college’s longest serving president by granting Swanger the title of president emeritus in March and hosting a retirement party at the Holiday Inn in June attended by local and state officials, FMCC faculty and staff and community members.

“I just want to thank this board for 13 years of a really great relationship between the presidency and the board,” Swanger said. “We have had a really strong board for 13 years and I just want to thank you for that. It’s been my pleasure to work with each of you and all of you and I will certainly miss you all.”

Following the meeting Swanger extended his appreciation for the college community and the area community at large noting that throughout his 13 years at FMCC and earlier in his career he focused on bringing higher education and the community together.

“There’s certainly some emotion about not only leaving the college, but about leaving the community. I’ve been very active in the community,” Swanger said. “It’s a little hard to leave that, but I’m ready for something new.”

While leading FMCC Swanger took part in a number of organizations and initiatives throughout the surrounding counties including the Glove Theater Board of Directors, the Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and serving as co-chair of the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council and co-chair of the Amsterdam Downtown Revitalization Initiative Local Planning Committee.

But Swanger expressed his confidence in the abilities of community members and leaders in Fulton and Montgomery counties and at the college to continue the positive growth he said he has seen over the last 13 years.

To the teachers, faculty and administrators at FMCC Swanger’s only parting advice was to continue the ongoing work of focusing on students.

“Focus on high quality programs and student experience and that will bring students and more importantly when they come they’ll stay,” Swanger said. “There is no question in my mind that this institution is going to go on.”

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