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DCCL Alumnae Begin Presidencies with Florida, Minnesota Colleges

PhotoPaige Niehaus

Two Ferris State University Doctorate in Community College Leadership program graduates are settling in as presidents of institutions in Florida and Minnesota as Paige Niehaus and Marsha Danielson began their respective roles Thursday, July 1.

Niehaus, a DCCL Cohort Five member who graduated in 2017, leads the Dale Mabry Campus of Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida. Previously, she served in various administrative positions with the Wayne County Community College District, in Michigan, during her studies, after an extended affiliation with Joliet Junior College, in Illinois.

“Overseeing the Dale Mabry Campus of HCC, one of the college’s five sites, is really a great fit, professionally,” Niehaus said. “We have a ‘one college’ philosophy here, with a keen focus on the needs of students in Tampa and Hillsborough County, and I am thrilled to work with my peers to further our mission.”

Niehaus said her learning as a DCCL student has significantly affected her educational philosophy and leadership skills, which she plans to employ at HCC’s Dale Mabry Campus.

“The DCCL curriculum is comprehensive, providing wonderful insights on the many divisions and academic departments that make up a community college,” Niehaus said. “That allows you to formulate intentions for all levels of the institution, which makes you a well-versed leader. Also, the collaboration with DCCL program alumni, ready and willing to assist peers as they pursue opportunities, offers a continuum of support beyond the DCCL education.”

PhotoMarsha Danielson

Danielson earned her Ferris Doctorate in Community College Leadership in 2019 as a Cohort Seven member. She is now president of Minnesota State College Southeast, a technical and community college with Red Wing and Winona campuses. Danielson comes to this opportunity, having served more than a decade as a leader at South Central College, a similarly aligned institution with campuses in Faribault and North Mankato, Minnesota.

“Minnesota State College, Southeast is really the perfect size, a strong, agile partner supporting the entrepreneurial element of both campus communities,” Danielson said. “I feel this is a good fit for my background in workforce solutions. My mentor, Larry Lundblad, had been interim president. So I had a great awareness of the efforts he and the faculty and staff have made to stabilize the college’s finances and strengthen its connection to the region’s business and industry.”

Danielson agreed with Niehaus about the importance of her DCCL learning for her previous position, finding it a continuing asset as she leads Minnesota State College Southeast.

“It is great to address and consider the many topics pertinent to the presidency, such as strategic planning, fundraising, human resources considerations, and working with other administrators,” Danielson said. “I was able to take practices I learned at Ferris and apply them to reshape policy administration at SCC.”
Both Niehaus and Danielson are completing the moving process, which meant interstate effort for Niehaus and in-state relocation for Danielson.

“This is certainly a unique housing market, something that is also the case along Florida’s Gulf Coast,” Niehaus said. “I know some of my colleagues are in the same boat, making purchases sight unseen, so they have a place to call home. I am only settling in after Tropical Storm Elsa came through to greet us. I know I will not have to deal with snow days here, but there are challenges everywhere.”

“My two campuses are about an hour apart, but I am already finding it a joy to make that trip, thanks to the natural beauty in this region,” Danielson said. “There was an unusual situation to work through in acquiring our new home, as it literally straddles a county line, and each government has its interpretations on existing paperwork. I have already met with the chambers of commerce in both campus communities and sat down with two of the five legislators in our region. That work will continue.”

The Doctorate of Community College Leadership program wraps up its 10th-anniversary celebration with an alumni reunion event on Saturday, Aug. 7, on the Big Rapids campus.

The DCCL Cohort Twelve course schedule has started, and the program based at Lone Star College in The Woodlands, Texas, has its second cohort underway.