MCLA President Mary Grant, with the help of Gov. Deval Patrick, cuts the ribbon on the school's new science center in October 2013.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The community reacted somberly to the news Friday that Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts President Mary Grant is leaving the school.
Grant is leaving MCLA to become the chancellor-elect at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Asheville. Grant became MCLA's 11th president when she arrived in 2002 and is responsible for expanding the school’s academics and infrastructure.
"While I am sad to see her go, I am happy she has the chance to grow professionally and personally," Sen. Benjamin Downing said Friday.
Downing said Grant has set a "high bar" for whoever becomes the next president at MCLA.
"I do not envy the task before the Board of Trustees, but I am sure they will find someone who will build on Mary's success and learn from her shining example," he said.
State Rep. Gailanne Cariddi echoed those sentiments, adding that Grant has had a huge influence on the school and the area.
“I know she has made a tremendous impact on the college and in the area; she was well-liked and will be missed,” Cariddi said. “I wish her the best of luck in her new position.”
MCLA's chief information officer, Curt King, said even though everyone is happy for Grant, her departure is still a sad thing for the school.
“We are happy for her she is moving on to bigger and better things, and we are very proud of her for doing that, but it’s a bummer,” King said. “She is such a great person and we are going to miss her very much, especially her leadership.”
MCLA Student Government Association President Brendan Peltier said he, too, is sad to see Grant go, but he was glad he had the opportunity to work with her.
“I know that the student body will miss President Grant, but I also know that it is time for her to start to impact another institution,” Peltier said. “President Grant has unified MCLA with North Adams, the Berkshires, and all of Massachusetts in ways no president has done before.”
Peltier is a staff member in Grant's office and he said Grant has especially helped him throughout his years at MCLA.
“President Grant has taught me so many valuable skills that will help me as I embark on graduation in one short academic year, and I have been honored to work close with President Grant and gain the knowledge of higher education,” he said. “She has inspired me to embark in a career in higher education administration, and I could not thank her enough.”
Gerol Petruzella, philosophy teacher and coordinator of Academic Technology, said the idea of Grant leaving had still not sunk in.
“I just read the email; I don’t have a reaction at the moment. I am still processing,” Petruzella said. “Mary Grant has been a tireless advocate for MCLA during her time here. It is really is good for UNC, though.”