(HELENA) Helena College’s next interim dean was on campus Tuesday, answering questions about his plans for the future.

State Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian has recommended that Kirk Lacy become interim dean on Jan. 16 and serve through June 30, 2019.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to join a very talented team of faculty, staff and students, as well as to get engaged into the Helena community,” Lacy said.

Lacy has worked in a number of roles around the Montana University System. He has been associate dean at Billings City College and both associate and interim dean at the College of Professional Studies and Lifelong Learning at Montana State University-Billings. Most recently, he worked as Montana’s director of workforce development partnerships, a joint appointment of the Commissioner of Higher Education and the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.

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As interim dean, Lacy said he wants to improve Helena College’s services for all types of students and strengthen partnerships with organizations around the community.

“There’s no urgent crisis that the college is facing at the current moment, which presents an excellent opportunity to focus on how we advance the college, how we build upon the strong foundation of success that the college has achieved,” he said.

The University System Board of Regents still has to officially approve Lacy’s nomination. Members will take a vote during their meeting in January.

Lacy’s appointment comes after University System administrators conducted a search earlier this year for a permanent dean, then decided not to hire any of the available candidates.

Christian said the applicants didn’t have the kind of experience the search committee was looking for – especially in areas like workforce development, which are key to Helena College’s mission. He said administrators will likely wait at least a year before reopening the search for a permanent dean, so a different pool of candidates will be available.

Christian said, if the next 18 months go well, they will also consider the possibility that Lacy could take over the position on a permanent basis.

“We’ve done that at other institutions around the state,” he said. “That’s certainly an option that we will vet internally and with the campus as we move forward.”

Lacy said that’s a possibility he would be interested in as well.

“I hope to earn the trust and the support of the campus and the community in the time that I’ll be in the interim position,” he said. “My goal is to earn the opportunity to provide leadership in this role long-term.”

Lacy will replace Jane Baker, Helena College’s current interim dean. Baker took over in May, after former dean Daniel Bingham resigned. Christian said Baker came out of retirement to fill the position and had never intended to remain beyond January.