HCC President Christina Royal moving on after current academic year


  • Holyoke Community College President Christina Royal speaks June 2, 2018 during the school’s 71st commencement ceremony at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. Royal has announced she will step down as president at the end of the current academic year. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 8/29/2022 4:51:07 PM

HOLYOKE — After five years leading Holyoke Community College, President Christina Royal has announced that she will retire.

In a message to the HCC community last week, Royal, 50, said that she will be stepping down from the community college after the coming academic year. She has served as HCC’s president since January 2017. Her last day will be July 14, 2023.

“It truly has been a pleasure to serve in the capacity of this role,” Royal told the Gazette in a phone interview. “It was so hard putting into words what I feel because I feel so much emotion around this decision. But at the same time I know it’s time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life.”

Royal began her career in higher education working at her alma mater, Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. After administrative stints at Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio and Inver Hills Community College in Minnesota, she landed in Holyoke.

Royal went from being the first in her family to graduate from college to the first woman to serve as HCC president.

There isn’t any particular job that Royal is leaving to take, she said. She said she has had plenty of opportunities come up, but every time said that her attention is fully on HCC and will continue to focus on her current work until she leaves.

Asked what work she is most proud of, she said it was the labor of making HCC an inclusive place and investing in meeting students’ basic needs like transportation, child care, food and housing.

“I’m most proud … of our work around equity and working to ensure our BIPOC students have the same opportunities to succeed as our white students,” she said.

Part of that work was creating the college’s “President’s Student Emergency Fund” for students to apply for urgent funding if, for example, they need a car repair or have some other temporary emergency that keeps them from learning. The application process is quick to get relief from the fund, Royal said — an important part of being responsive to students’ needs, she said.

“They are in college because they want to change their lives,” she said. “This is an opportunity to find another way for HCC to recognize the different barriers that impede progress.”

Robert Gilbert, the chair of HCC’s board of trustees, praised Royal’s work on those and other similar initiatives. He also expressed admiration for her planning prowess and financial smarts. He said she helped develop and implement the college’s first-ever strategic plan in its 75-year history as well as a “sustainability program” for the college as revenues declined and costs climbed.

“She’s smart, she’s a very good planner but one of her biggest qualities is the ability to lead and have others follow her,” Gilbert said.

The college will immediately begin a search process for Royal’s successor, Gilbert said. Ideally, the next president will be selected in April and would begin work in May so that they could overlap with Royal for a few months, he added.

Gilbert said the college is hoping for somebody similar to Royal.

“We definitely feel there’s certain qualities that were displayed by Dr. Royal that we want in the new president,” he said.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.
Sign up for our free email updates
Daily Hampshire Gazette Headlines
Daily Hampshire Gazette Contests & Promotions
Daily Hampshire Gazette Evening Top Reads
Daily Hampshire Gazette Breaking News
Daily Hampshire Gazette Obits
Daily Hampshire Gazette Sports
Daily Hampshire Gazette PM Updates
Daily Hampshire Gazette Weekly Top Stories
Valley Advocate Newsletter
Daily Hampshire Gazette Dining & Entertainment


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, your leading source for news in the Pioneer Valley.

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

23 Service Center Road
Northampton, MA 01060


Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy