FALL RIVER — Laura L. Douglas, after months of preparation, officially stepped into her new role on Monday as president of Bristol Community College.
She said her first day was going “pretty well,” having started on the day of the BCC staff pre-Fourth of July cookout.
Formerly the prevost of Des Moines Area Community College in Des Moines, Iowa, Douglas, who has ties to the SouthCoast, plans to familiarize herself with the BCC campuses in Fall River, Attleboro, New Bedford and Taunton, as well as the needs of those communities.
“BCC really covers a lot of ground,” Douglas said. “Every community has different needs.”
But that’s something Douglas is accustomed to — having headed six campuses and more than 30,000 credit students in Iowa.
Over the past few months, she’s participated in video calls with staff and officials and learned about current issues important to BCC as “we position the college for the future.” She’s also visited with some local nonprofit organizations.
“I’ve had the gift of time since being appointed in January to landing here today,” Douglas said.
In the weeks ahead, Douglas will be meeting with staff, faculty, students, alumni, donors and members of the community and its leaders as part of her BCC Connect Tour.
Douglas will also have the help of a 14-member transition team made up of local business people, college officials and others to get her settled into the community and culture of BCC.
She said it will help her “identify key goals” and generate ideas for her first few months as the new BCC leader.
“My calendar is filling up,” Douglas said.
She is taking the helm where longtime president John J. “Jack” Sbrega left off in August. Sbrega retired after heading the college since 2000.
Douglas is BCC’s fourth college president in its 51-year history.
She was the top choice of BCC Board of Trustees, after the group whittled 45 applicants down to five finalists.
Douglas — who doesn’t have a permanent office or home yet — said her office at the main Fall River campus is being remodeled. She and her husband, Gregg Johnson, a business professor, have relocated to the area and are currently renting in Somerset while they shop for a new house.
Douglas grew up in Northampton, is familiar with Greater Fall River and summered on Cape Cod.
Her grandfather, John F. Delahunt, was born and raised in Fall River. Her great-grandfather was employed in a cotton mill as a loom fixer. The family home was on Carver Street.
Douglas said she’s looking forward to touring the BCC campuses and getting to know everyone in her new role, especially students and alumni.
“Everywhere I go, there’s a BCC alumni,” Douglas said. “Everyone is connected to BCC. I’m looking forward to hearing the stories. That’s really just music to my ears.”