LaGuardia Community College will have a new person in charge – but only temporarily – as Dr. Peter Katopes has taken over as president through the end of the year while current president Dr. Gail Mellow is on sabbatical.
Katopes, an Astoria native who has served as the college’s Vice President for Academic Affairs since 2005, is excited and grateful for the opportunity to serve as the school’s interim president.
During the past five years, Katopes has been responsible for the creation, development and assessment of more than 50 academic programs and majors at the Long Island City institution, which have helped him prepare for his new role.
“I have been very lucky because Gail Mellow has really given me a lot of freedom to build the way I thought we needed to build the institution,” said Katopes, who prior to arriving at LaGuardia has held faculty and administrative posts at Suffolk Community College and Adelphi University, both on Long Island.
Since Katopes came to LaGuardia Community College, he has hired 150 new faculty members increasing the number who hold doctorate degrees by more than 20 percent. Currently, 51 percent of LaGuardia faculty members hold doctorate degrees compared to 19 percent at community colleges throughout the country.
In his new role as interim president, Katopes said he will hit the ground running. He talked about getting ready for graduation in September, planning for the new academic year and preparing for Middle States as just a few of the initiatives he would take on immediately.
Another area that Katopes, who served three years in the U.S. Army attaining the rank of First Lieutenant, wanted to focus on was making sure that young veterans were given ample education opportunities and resources.
“The goal really is to make sure that the college continues to move forward, that this is not a period for me to be holding on,” Katopes said.