By SCOTT JACKSON
Quincy College’s board of governors has chosen the longtime leader of the Quincy Public Schools to serve as the college’s next president.
The board on Thursday unanimously voted to begin contract talks with Richard DeCristofaro to make him the new president of the city-owned college. DeCristofaro, age 68, has served as the superintendent of the Quincy Public Schools since 2001 and has worked in the school system since 1974.
In a letter to the Quincy Public Schools community Friday, DeCristofaro said he would be leaving the school system for the college in June.
“Quincy Public Schools has been an extraordinary part of my life, first as a student for kindergarten through grade 12 and continuing after college, when I became a teacher,” he wrote.
“It has been an honor to have had a career filled with invaluable life-long relationships with excellent professional and administrative staff, caring parents, as well as supportive mayors and School Committee members. I am so very fortunate to have been part of the Quincy Public Schools in this incredible city.
“We still have much work to do in the next weeks and months and, as always, we will work together and educate and care for our students in the very best way we can.”
The board of governors’ presidential search committee met for nearly an hour Thursday, followed by a meeting of the full board.
The college had advertised for the president’s position throughout the month of March, according to Robert Antonucci, a former president of Fitchburg State University who served as a consultant to Quincy College during the hiring process.
Antonucci said 22 people applied for the job with applicants from as far away as Texas, Utah and California. Among those who applied were the president of a for-profit college in Boston, a senior administrator from North Shore Community College and the president of a state university in New York, though Antonucci said that person has changed jobs every couple years. A Quincy College professor and administrator both applied to be the school’s president as well.
Three others, including DeCristofaro, were nominated for the position; the two other individuals who were nominated were not interested in the position. Antonucci said it is not unusual for a candidate to be nominated for the job of college president and DeCristofaro was treated like any other candidate.
Katherine Craven, the chairwoman of the presidential search committee, recommended the board begin negotiations with DeCristofaro to make him the school’s new president. She noted the college’s current acting president, Daniel Asquino, was set to leave by June 13 and said DeCristofaro is familiar with the city and the college.
“Having someone who comes in and knows Quincy…is a pretty sensible and logical thing,” she said during the committee meeting.
Craven, the former executive director of the Massachusetts School Building Authority, also said she had worked with DeCristofaro during the construction of the new Quincy High School and Central Middle School. DeCristofaro, she added, is also familiar with the Quincy Education Association, the union that represents both Quincy Public Schools teachers and faculty and staff at Quincy College.
Paul Barbadoro, the chairman of the board of governors, said DeCristofaro was both qualified for the position and familiar with the city.
“Rick is eminently qualified…and has all the local knowledge and abilities we are looking for in a president,” he said.
Search committee member Barbara Clarke said DeCristofaro was qualified for the position but said her colleagues should vet other candidates first.
“Rick is very competent, has all the credentials plus the experience in the system,” Clarke said, but questioned whether the process was being rushed.
“We have two more months,” she added later.
Clarke also asked why the board advertised for the president’s job in the first place. Barbadoro said it was unknown until recently if DeCristofaro was interested in the position.
Joseph Shea said the college needs to do a better job of attracting students from Quincy and other nearby communities, something he said DeCristofaro would be able to do. Shea also said it was important to hire someone who could “hit the ground running.”
“We can’t waste any time. We have to get going,” said Shea, a former Quincy city clerk. “Two more months is so valuable. I don’t think we can tarry.”
The vice chairman of the search committee, Christopher Carroll, said DeCristofaro is someone who spends six or seven days a week working in the city’s school system and described him as someone who likes to “roll up his sleeves and get to work.”
“He could be retiring…but he’s looking at this as a challenge,” Carroll said.
The search committee voted 7-0 in favor of recommending DeCristofaro to the full board, with Clarke voting present.
Clarke then joined her colleagues in voting in favor of entering into negotiations with DeCristofaro during the subsequent meeting of the full board, saying it was best to give him the board’s full support.
“The selection of Rick DeCristofaro is a good selection, I believe. He brings a lot of local knowledge and educational experience,” Clarke said. “I support him, but I don’t agree with the process.”
A 1970 graduate of Quincy High School, DeCristofaro earned a bachelor’s degree from North Adams State College (now the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts) in 1974; a masters in elementary education from Suffolk University in 1976; a certificate of advanced graduate study from Boston State College (which was later incorporated into the University of Massachusetts Boston) in 1980; a masters in special education from Suffolk in 1983; and a doctorate of education from University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1991.
DeCristofaro began working for the school system in 1974 as a fifth-grade teacher at the former Pollard and Willard Schools, and rose through the ranks until he was named principal of the Snug Harbor Community School in 1987. DeCristofaro held that post until January 1993, when he was named assistant superintendent. He was named acting school superintendent in July 2001 and the full-time superintendent that November.
Quincy College has been led by a series of acting presidents since Peter Tsaffaras resigned in May 2018. Tsaffaras had been the school’s president since 2011.
Following Tsaffaras’ departure, the board of governors first turned to Mayor Thomas Koch as the school’s interim leader and then tabbed Michael Bellotti to serve as acting president in September 2018; Bellotti left his post as Norfolk County sheriff to join the college. Asquino, who served as the president of Wachusett Community College in Gardner from 1987 to 2017, has served as Quincy College’s acting president since November 2019.