The Connecticut Board of Regents selected a leader Wednesday for the state’s soon-to-be-merged community college, a medical doctor from Minnesota State Community and Technical College.

Dr. John Maduko will start in his new position as president of the Connecticut State Community College on June 3. His annual salary will be $300,000, according to a Wednesday news release.

The hire marks an important step in a merger of 12 Connecticut community college campuses, which began about five years ago. The merger has been controversial, particularly among faculty who questioned early on whether it will achieve its promised savings and whether the plan for staffing the newly merged system was sufficient.

The merged college will have more than 32,000 students, according to the news release. It’s set to open in July 2023.

Dr. John Maduko gives a speech after the announcement. Maduko is a medical doctor and currently serves as vice president of academic and student affairs for Minnesota State Community and Technical College. Yehyun Kim / ctmirror.org

Maduko has a doctor of medicine degree from St. Matthew’s University School of Medicine and a Bachelor of Science in biology at California State Polytechnic University Pomona. He’s served as vice president of academic and student affairs at Minnesota State Community and Technical College since 2019.

“Together, we will write a new history, one that celebrates meeting the needs of students and the surrounding communities, embracing enrollment challenges, maintaining institutional and academic integrity and fulfilling the college vision for students’ success while adapting … to new opportunities,” Maduko said Wednesday.

Maduko has previously worked at several colleges including North Central Texas College District, Rasmussen University and the National Paralegal College, among others. 

Dr. Richard Munassi, a long-time friend of Dr. John Maduko, takes photos while live-streaming the announcement for Maduko’s wife who couldn’t attend the event. Munassi said he flew from Florida the day before the event to celebrate Munassi’s appointment as president of Connecticut State Community College. Yehyun Kim / ctmirror.org

The Board of Regents’ search advisory committee had a nationwide search for the candidate. The advisory committee consisted of more than 40 students, faculty, staff and administrators, among other groups.

“My first step is [to] connect with the people of CT State, to be present to really avoid leading from behind the desk and seeing the progress and the challenges,” he said Wednesday.

In addition to leading the college through the start of the merger, he’ll also have to contend with declining enrollment, worsened by the pandemic.

“We have to be more aligned with going to them as it pertains to what we can offer to help them get to their ultimate destination,” he said.

He added that the school will need to be “data driven” with regards to demand.

Dr. John Maduko, far left, joins a campus tour at the Connecticut State Community College. Maduko will assume a role leading the state’s single, merged community college with 12 campuses and more than 32,000 students. Yehyun Kim / ctmirror.org

Gov. Ned Lamont, who spoke at the press conference, referenced the need for more skilled workers to join the workforce and the training they receive at Connecticut’s community colleges.

“We’ve got more jobs than we have people training for those jobs,” Lamont said.

Cheryl DeVonish, Norwalk Community College chief executive officer and chair of the search advisory committee, said Maduko stuck out in the applicant pool because of his previous work on equity. Norwalk’s community college is a Hispanic-Serving Institution, so it was important for her to find someone with focus on equity for those students.

“Having Dr. Maduko serve as president of Connecticut State Community College will be impactful to the region,” said Dr. Richard Munassi, one of Maduko’s longtime friends who attended Wednesday’s press conference. “His initiatives focused on workforce development and reskilling, innovation and community engagement will set a new bar for similar systems throughout the country.”

Dr. John Maduko, far right, talks to Gov. Ned Lamont before a press conference. The Board of Regents for Higher Education appointed Dr. John Maduko to serve as president of Connecticut State Community College. Yehyun Kim / ctmirror.org

Ginny Monk is the Children's Issues and Housing Reporter at CT Mirror, covering topics ranging from education and child welfare to affordable housing and zoning.  Ginny grew up in Arkansas and graduated from the University of Arkansas’ Lemke School of Journalism in 2017.  She began her career at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette where she covered housing, homelessness, juvenile justice, and investigations.  Along the way Ginny was awarded a 2019 Data Fellowship through the Annenberg Center for Health Journalism at the University of Southern California. She moved to Connecticut in 2021 and covered housing for Hearst CT.