BY BETH PETER
The New York Mets were the World Champions of baseball, Hands Across America was sweeping the nation, Top Gun was the number one movie at the box office and The Cosby Show was the top show on television.
The year was 1986 and Dr. Edward Yaw began his tenure as President at The County College of Morris. Over the ensuing decades elections came and went, wars were fought, the economy crashed and recovered multiple times, the internet was invented and throughout it all Yaw remained a steady presence at the head on the institution.
All that is about to change, as Yaw informed the Board of Trustees last semester that he will be leaving at the end of his current contract this summer. Yaw has been responsible for many of the changes made to the school. One of his most notable contributions was a push for a statewide transfer agreement that aids students attempting to pursue education beyond their associate degrees. He has also served on the boards of many organizations, including the Morris County Chamber of Commerce and the Urban League of Morris County.
During his time on campus Yaw said that beyond the building of new facilities almost every building on campus has been renovated so by the end of his time at CCM everything will be up to date.
One of the reasons Yaw’s time at the school has spanned decades is because he enjoyed the work. In fact, Yaw said he loved every minute of his time on campus.
One factor that creates such a welcoming environment on campus is the cleanliness around CCM, Yaw said. The college as a very clean and well kept institution, is a tradition that Yaw would like to see carry on after he leaves. Indeed, the only thing he can think to change about the school is to see an increase in faculty development, to aid faculty in their endeavors to be the best they can be.
Professor Alexis Thurman, chairperson of mathematics, began working at CCM in 1990, four years after Yaw’s induction as President.
“After that [first] meeting, he came right up to me, shook my hand…[he was] a guiding light,” Thurman said.
Yaw’s interest in his faculty and his students established an environment in which faculty always felt comfortable to go to him with problems, Thurman said.
“The school wasn’t a business, you knew he was working for the students,” Thurman said. “I think he will be greatly missed, by everyone.”
When a new President does step in and take over what Yaw has established at the school, Professor Thurman hopes that they will continue and finish the projects that he has started and allow him to help them.
For his part, Yaw hopes more and more families will begin to see the school as a first choice institution, as a stepping stone onto four-year universities or to careers.
Yaw said he believes the school will get bigger and better over the years.
One of the most impressive elements of CCM is the Alpha Kappa Kappa chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the two-year college honor society. Students in Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) must have a GPA of 3.50 or higher, and to be inducted is an honor.
Daniel Edens, president of the Alpha Kappa Kappa chapter, said Yaw’s yearly meetings with PTK help them to more concretely shape their goals, and help in beginning their projects when it may be difficult to find a place to start.
“Yaw has encouraged me as a student leader by leading by example,” Edens said. “I strive to public speak like he does, very articulately.”
Yaw said all of his most rewarding experiences at the college relate to students and their success here and elsewhere. Yaw was never an administrator content to sit in his office, his constant involvement with the student body, from his dedication to meeting regularly with the Student Government Association (SGA) to his support of the Youngtown Edition, is what allowed him to have such a lasting impact.
The Youngtown Edition has been running for 47 years, producing a paper consistently and always having Yaw’s support, despite the changing economic climate.
Derek Allen, current Editor-in-Chief of the Youngtown, said the time commitment necessary to create a paper was made easier by Yaw’s continued support.
“Dr. Yaw has been really supportive to the paper when seeking help from him and writing articles,” Allen said. “He’s always made himself available to help. Even when the conversations were about difficult issues, Dr. Yaw was unwavering in his commitment to getting us the information. He respected what we were trying to accomplish and that made all the difference.”
Representatives from the SGA said they were thankful for the contributions Yaw has made over his career.
“On behalf of the student body, the Student Government Association would like to express that Dr. Yaw has been highly encouraging and welcoming towards SGA,” said President of the SGA, Marcelle Caruso. “We will always be appreciative of Dr. Yaw’s willingness to attend to the needs of the student body as well as SGA’s events. Dr. Yaw’s contributions to allow SGA to attend the prestigious College Council monthly meeting has given the Student Leaders the motivation to better CCM’s community.”
His commitment to the students was personal as well, and he made a conscientious effort to get to know each student and aid them on their journey through CCM.
On a personal note, Caruso spoke about the effect Yaw has had on her career here in addition to the advancements and progresses he has made for the student body as a whole.
“Dr. Yaw has been an influential figure throughout my journey at CCM,” said Caruso. “He has been understanding, insightful and his leadership has molded me into the student leader I have become. I thank him for everything he has done on campus and how he has impacted CCM’s community. No one will ever forget his presence and achievements established on and off campus.”
30 years at CCM is a hard habit to break – Yaw is not planning on leaving the area anytime soon, and he said it is entirely possible that he will still make appearances at events around campus.
Replacing such a longstanding President is no easy task, and Yaw shared that while the administration does not know who will be taking over yet, they are working on it. They have established a committee of faculty, staff, students and others who have partnered with a professional search firm called Isaacson, Miller and have been receiving applications and recruiting candidates. The plan is to have a determined successor by the end of the summer, when Yaw’s tenure draws to a close.
According to Chair of the Presidential Search Committee Jeffrey M. Advokat announced that eight candidates have been selected from around the country with a variety of backgrounds and experiences, and will be interviewed confidentially by the committee in the coming weeks.
By February, a small group of candidates will be selected to visit the campus and interact with faculty, students, and staff.
Yaw’s time at CCM has marked many changes to the college and his impact on the lives of staff, students, and faculty is immeasurable.
His advice for his successor is simple.
“Keep a sense of humor,” Yaw said.