Nicolet Area Technical College held a special going away reception for president Elizabeth Burmaster Monday afternoon as she ends her five-year tenure in that position. Burmaster announced last month that she has accepted the presidency at Frederick Community College in Maryland. She is scheduled to start her new job Aug. 18. Its just been such a privilege to be the president of Nicolet College, Burmaster said. Its been a wonderful time. (Marcus Nesemann/River News)
7/2/2014 7:30:00 AM Nicolet College says goodbye to Burmaster
There was no room for sorrow on Monday as friends and colleagues gathered at Nicolet Area Technical College to bid farewell to departing president Elizabeth Burmaster. Stories of happy times and inspiration were shared as Burmaster prepares to leave for her next post.
Burmaster ended her five-year tenure as president of the college with the reception. She announced in May that she has accepted the presidency at Frederick Community College in Maryland. She is scheduled to start her new job Aug. 18.
Although she is heading east, Burmaster said she will continue to spend time in the Northwoods.
"(My husband and I) will be back. We're not selling our cabin, so we still plan on coming up to visit as much as we can," she said. "We love the Northwoods and everyone who has been a part of our lives. We can't just leave it. We'll be visiting as frequently as we can."
Before she gave her farewell speech, Burmaster's colleagues spoke about how much she has inspired them over the years.
"Libby, you have truly been an inspiration to us all," said Heather Schallock, executive director of the Nicolet College Foundation. "Libby showed me how to take the skills I've learned in previous positions and use them to become successful here at Nicolet. ... She showed all of us how professional women can come in and succeed."
Burmaster herself gave a passionate and lively speech, pacing back and forth amongst the crowd, laughing and joking with everyone as she fondly recalled her time at Nicolet. It is a time she will never forget, she said.
"It's just been such a privilege to be the president of Nicolet College. In this room is the strength of the Northwoods. These folks, it's truly been my privilege to work with all of these people," she said. "Nicolet is going to continue to move forward because of the energy present in this room. It's been a wonderful time."
The landscape of public education changed a lot during Burmaster's tenure, however she said her greatest success during the most difficult times was being able to work together to keep student success rates high.
"The community coming together is what makes everything joyful for me. Just to see people working side by side with a common goal, and the common goal here is student success," Burmaster said. "That's what's been the true joy of it, everyone working together to make sure our students succeed."
In her stead, the college's Board of Trustees has named Kenneth Urban interim president of the college. The board approved Urban's interim presidency as a one-year contract that will run through June 30, 2015. During that time the board will conduct a formal search for a president.
Urban thanked Burmaster for her service to the college and wished her luck as she begins her new endeavor in Maryland.
"Libby's really a transformative leader. She took us through a lot of change that the institution needed to go through and she did an outstanding job in that," he said. "She was so visionary and so helpful in helping us focus where we needed to go. My only hope is that we can continue the legacy that she started."
Marcus Nesemann may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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