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Massachusetts’ Bristol Community College’s President Laura Douglas announces retirement, reflects on her tenure



FALL RIVER/NEW BEDFORD/TAUNTON/ATTLEBORO – President Laura L. Douglas, Ph.D., of Bristol Community College, announced today that she will be retiring in January 2025, marking the end of a 7-year tenure at the college.

President Douglas joined the college as its 4th president in 2017. “I have been very fortunate to have had a fulfilling higher education career with the most rewarding period being my seven years as the President of Bristol Community College. In the year ahead, I am excited to continue to fulfill the objectives outlined in our strategic plan as the college begins the search for a new president,” she said in a letter to the college community.

Joan Medeiros, Chair of the Bristol Community College Board of Trustees, said that President Douglas had a profound impact that will continue to shape the college well into the future. “As we bid farewell to President Douglas on her well-deserved retirement, we commend her unwavering dedication to our college community. During her time at Bristol, she has led innovative initiatives and significant achievements. Her leadership strengthened our college and further solidified our role as a vital part of the community. While steering us through unprecedented challenges, she remained committed to addressing the needs of our students, employees, and the community. We extend our heartfelt gratitude for her exceptional service.”

Under President Douglas’ leadership, the college has embraced its strategic priorities, equity initiatives, and an overall commitment to reducing barriers for students who are the most in need. The strategic preparation and efforts related to Early College, Dual Enrollment, and MassReconnect, free community college for adults 25 and older with no college degree, have resulted in a significant increase in enrollment, says the college, moving the college to become the fourth largest among the 15 community colleges in the state. Overall enrollment from Fall 2022 to Fall 2023 has increased by 4.5%, with an increase of 3.6% of students who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, and a 5% increase in the percentage of adult learners. She also ushered in the National Offshore Wind Institute, positioning the college as a leader in providing training for the growing workforce demands of the offshore wind industry and related sectors.

Douglas was recently honored with the Brayton Community Service Award from One SouthCoast Chamber, which also awarded Bristol Community College as the 2023 APEX Business of the Year.

Reflecting on the achievements during her tenure, Douglas expressed gratitude to the entire Bristol community—students, faculty, staff, alumni, the Foundation, donors, legislators, elected officials and community members—for their unwavering support. “I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to serve as Bristol’s 4th President. Fall River is the place where my maternal great-grandparents landed as immigrants. They worked in the cotton mills, and my grandfather was the first in the family to complete high school—right here in Fall River, the Scholarship City. This connection to the South Coast has fueled my passion for creating a college-going culture and solidified our focus on bringing new industries and jobs to the region, such as offshore wind,” President Douglas said.

Bristol Community College will be initiating a search for a new president during Spring 2024.

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