top of page

On April 28, 2022, Dr. Felicia Ganther, a lawyer with a Ph.D. in Community Resources and Development, was installed as the fifth President of Bucks County Community College making her the first African American to hold the post in the school’s 58-year history. In describing why Ganther was selected for the presidency, David Breidinger, the First Chair of the College Board of Trustees said, “We wanted a leader who was innovative, passionate, and a strategic thinker with a history of cultural change and accomplishments. Dr. Ganther, check.”

Prior to joining Bucks County Community College, Dr. Ganther was the Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs for the Maricopa County Community College District where she worked for nearly a decade. She has also taught speech, interpersonal/group communication, and higher education law courses. At Maricopa, she also facilitated the development a new branding system, website realignment and a system-wide enrollment process. Ganther has had a twenty-five year career in higher education and an impressive resume, working at schools in Virginia, Utah, Wisconsin, Illinois, Arizona and now Pennsylvania. Her focus was always in student affairs.

When asked in an interview, “If you could clone yourself, what other career would you pursue?” Ganther replied, “In law school I worked with the courts doing mediations for civil suits. I also was a teaching assistant for the director of the arbitration program. So, if I had a chance to clone myself, I would be an arbitrator/mediator. While the concepts are vested in the legal world, the way in which you as an arbitrator/mediator help two parties to come to some agreement is the same way you help community stakeholders find common ground on solving issues in their communities.” In the same interview she was asked to state her life motto in one sentence and she responded, “Never let fear paralyze you, because your gift will knock down any barrier and your passion for helping others will get you in places you never imagined.”

In another interview Ganther was asked, “As a working woman, what is the one organizational tool that you can’t live without?” She replied, “Interpersonal Communication. If you can’t develop dyadic relationships with the people you work for, work with, or who work for you…it’s a bust! This is a skill set that is often overlooked by leaders who are moving up their career ladder. Its great you know how to present publicly, you can send out emails, write superb documents…BUT...if you can’t talk with, emotionally connect to, and find commonality with each individual you are working with…those other shiny skills don’t matter.”

Ganther earned her J.D. from the University of Illinois’ John Marshall Law School.

Fun Fact: One thing we have in common – we both played the bass clarinet.

In 2019 lawyer Bobbie Knight was appointed as the first woman president of Miles College in Alabama. She was initially appointed as interim president and then in 2020 she was appointed as the permanent president. The College has extended Prior to her appointment she had retired in 2016 as an executive of the Alabama Power Company where she spent 37 years in various leadership roles including Vice President of the Birmingham Division, Vice President of Public Relations and General Manager of Supply Chain. Knight considers one of the highlights of her corporate career as being selected, “…as one of 21 women worldwide for the acclaimed Leadership Foundation Fellows Program of the International Women’s Forum. This program afforded her the opportunity to study at Harvard University and the Judge School of Business at Cambridge in the United Kingdom.”

In announcing a contract extension, the Board of Trustees Chair noted about Knight, “Her strategic approach to goal-setting, her extensive corporate experience, and her warm and engaging personality are assets that have already benefited the college. We look forward to new initiatives that she will launch to assure Miles College students receive a quality education and college experience.” According to a news article so far, “During Knight’s tenure as president, the college has experienced two consecutive years of enrollment increases. Also, under Knight’s leadership, the college has had an increase of over 500 percent in private gifts and more than 1100 percent in public and foundation gifts. The college also increased its endowment to an all-time high and has been rated one of the top 10 most fiscally stable Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the nation.”

Knight is accessible and dedicated to the Miles College students, encouraging them to text her and to reach out on social media, describing herself as a mother figure or even grandmother figure for those who many not have the privilege of that relationship at home.

President Knight had been appointed to the Miles College Board of Trustees in 2017. Membership in Boards of Trustees has been another pathway for lawyers to the campus presidency, and indeed that was how Knight was tapped. She is CEO of her own company, Bobbie Knight Consulting, and is chair of the Board of Managers for the Birmingham Times Media Group and currently treasurer of the Birmingham Airport Authority (she also served as vice chair and chair).

She earned her JD from Birmingham School of Law. She also completed Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management Executive Leadership Program.

When Colleen M. Hanycz assumed the presidency of Xavier University in July 2021(Cinncinati,OH), is was the second time she was experienced being the first woman and first layperson to lead a campus, having previously served as president of La Salle University (Philadelphia, PA). Hanycz also served a seven-year tenure as principal (president) of a third religiously affiliated school, Brescia University College, a Catholic women’s college (in the Ursuline tradition) in Ontario, Canada.

After earning her law degree at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Colleen Hanycz practiced in the areas of securities and employment litigation in Toronto, Canada with the firm of Heenan Blaikie LLP. She decided to pursue her academic interests, completing an LL.M. and a Ph.D. in law at York University . She was an associate professor at Osgoode Hall Law School where she taught Civil Procedure and Dispute Resolution before assuming the presidency at Brescia University College.

While at Brescia University College, among other things, Hanycz, “focused considerable efforts on the opportunity to enhance women’s representation both on corporate boards and across C-suite appointments, including service on a federal roundtable sponsored by the Canadian government.”

During an interview early in her tenure at LaSalle, she noted that it has been a challenge in the community as the first lay person and first woman at LaSalle – which did not begin accepted woman students until 1970. She noted that women make up 60% of the student body at LaSalle and that they have been welcoming her and indicating she is a role model. When asked about how she could bring the enrollment success she had a Brescia to LaSalle, she observed that at a lot of religiously affiliated schools (e.g., the Christian Brothers) stay quieter and don’t really tell their story. She noted in the higher education landscape of today, it is time to get the word out about religious affiliated schools.

At Xavier, like LaSalle, women were not admitted to the University until 1969 (a year earlier than LaSalle). Hanycz noted that “Catholic higher education is becoming more and more open to diversity.” Hanycz has easily navigated from an Ursuline affiliated school, to a LaSallian Christian Brothers school and now to a Jesuit institution.

bottom of page