After a yearlong search, officials at the University College of the Cayman Islands announced on Wednesday that a new president and chief executive officer has been chosen to lead the school beginning Jan. 1.
Stacy McAfee, 54, will take over when current President J.A. Roy Bodden steps down at the end of December after nine years at the helm.
UCCI Board of Governors Chairman Anthony Ritch broke the news to faculty and staff shortly before making the official announcement at Wednesday’s board meeting.
Ms. McAfee is currently an associate vice president at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. Her role there focuses on external relations and strategic partnerships.
Mr. Ritch said he and his fellow board members believe Ms. McAfee will be able to increase fundraising and bring a new strategic plan for the school to fruition – two key components he said officials were looking for in a new president.
“She’ll bring a lot of new energy to that,” Mr. Ritch said, referring to the strategic plan.
He said she also has experience in the area of accreditation, something that the school has been pursuing in the last year.
Ms. McAfee said she feels that Cayman and UCCI will be a good fit for her.
While she had not visited Cayman before a round of interviews in May, she said, “I’ve been to that region a couple of different times and it’s an area that my husband and I loved.”
As far as the campus, she said, “I was impressed with the caliber of the faculty and staff and their commitment to the university’s mission. I was quite impressed to see the research taking place at the university.”
A native of Illinois, Ms. McAfee earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Iowa State University, followed by an MBA from DePaul University in Illinois. She completed a doctorate in educational leadership and management from Drexel University three and a half years ago.
She has served at community colleges and universities in Illinois and California, including DePaul University, Elmhurst College, University of Phoenix, St. Charles Community College, and College of DuPage.
She and her husband, Terry, have two adult sons.
During her career, she said, she’s dealt with students with a wide variety of goals and expectations, whether it was in academic pursuits or in going after more vocational and business-oriented endeavors.
“I like the idea that UCCI understands and respects the value of all types of education,” Ms. McAfee said. “I have a strong sense of what [it means] to develop a traditional student and shape them to prepare them for a career.”
Mr. Ritch said the new president has “big shoes to fill.”
“He’s leaving a very strong legacy in terms of his presence and his leadership,” he said of Mr. Bodden.
Ms. McAfee said she hopes to build on Mr. Bodden’s legacy. “Under President Bodden’s leadership, there have been a number of great initiatives and a lot of great things have been done,” she said.
Beyond the university, she said she hopes to become involved in cultural and nonprofit organizations in the Cayman community.
“I’m pretty impressed with what I’m seeing in terms of the cultural and other organizations that exist,” she said, adding that she has been doing research on the island. “The real learning will occur when I’m able to be present.”
While she is contracted to start in the new year, she said she expects to be on the island shortly before that, and will usher in the new year island style. “My husband and I are looking forward to our first fireworks in Cayman,” she said.