On January 11, Mark E. Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU), announced that Norwalk Community College President David L. Levinson, Ph.D. is retiring on June 30, 2019. Ojakian praised Dr. Levinson for his meaningful contributions to NCC and his service to the state as Vice President for the CSCU Community Colleges.
Since that announcement, Dr. Levinson has reflected on his years at NCC and has been expressing gratitude to the college community and its educational partners, with whom he has achieved so much.
“We’ve accomplished a tremendous amount during the past 15 years, serving tens of thousands of students whose lives will be forever transformed by your care and dedication,” he told faculty and staff. “I know that you will continue to nurture the success of countless students … I am grateful for the joy you brought to my life and will forever be #NCCProud.”
Evolution of a Respected Leader
Dr. Levinson joined NCC on August 2, 2004. At that time, he announced a strong desire for the college to engage more fully with the region it serves. He envisioned NCC as “a partner in the economic and cultural lives of our communities, providing comprehensive, accessible, innovative and affordable learning opportunities.”
In his Inaugural year, Dr. Levinson underscored that commitment to community engagement by holding Academic Festival events in each of the 10 towns NCC serves. Residents enjoyed lectures, art shows, celebrations and demonstrations—and got to know the college and its new leader a little better. Since then, the annual public Festival has hosted celebrated speakers including bestselling author James McBride, choreographer Twyla Tharp and rapper Chuck D.
“I’m proud of the level of community engagement we’ve had over the years. I didn’t do this by myself,” he recalls. “My personal philosophy is that no one ever does anything alone.”
A year into his presidency, Dr. Levinson wrote “Community Colleges: A Reference Handbook,” a book used by educators nationwide (published by ABC CLIO; 2005). He has since written many journal articles and made nearly 80 presentations at professional association conferences on topics ranging from the achievement gap and data-driven decision making to social justice and student success.
He has since written many journal articles and made nearly 80 presentations at professional association conferences on topics ranging from the achievement gap and data-driven decision making to social justice and student success.
Dr. Levinson is especially gratified that NCC is the only community college in Connecticut to earn elective Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and to be included in the U.S. President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll four times.
Under his leadership, NCC established a Service Learning program enabling students to earn college credits while doing volunteer work. He co-founded Norwalk ACTS for Children, a consortium of community leaders dedicated to eradicating the pre-K to 12th grade achievement gap. He also founded the Norwalk Early College Academy (NECA) with IBM and the Norwalk public schools. The state’s first Pathways in Technology (P-Tech) school, NECA provides an opportunity for students in grades 9-14 to simultaneously earn a high school diploma and no-cost NCC associate degree within six years. Dr. Levinson also developed collaborative programs with J.M. Wright Technical School in Stamford, and created an Early College partnership with Stamford High School.
Dr. Levinson doesn’t just promote community service, he lives it.
He has rolled up his sleeves to work with students building Habitat for Humanity houses, and personally helps students choose courses at Open Advising and Registration Sessions. He chaired the search for the Norwalk Superintendent of Schools and chaired the Implementation Team and Transformation’s Steering Committee for the Norwalk Housing Authority and City of Norwalk’s $30 million Choice Neighborhood Initiative. He serves as a director or advisor to many agency boards including Stepping Stones Children’s Museum, Connecticut Campus Compact and Family and Children’s Agency. In 2018, he received the prestigious Connecticut Higher Education Excellence Award from the New England Board of Higher Education for strengthening the relationship between higher education and the economic well-being of New England.
Under Dr. Levinson’s stewardship, NCC has achieved national stature. The college became an Achieving the Dream Leader College, a national distinction for its outstanding student success initiatives. NCC also received a $763,000 grant from the MDC/ Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for a developmental education initiative. In addition, NCC was chosen to lead a federal $12.1 million Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant for a Health and Life Sciences Career initiative. NCC also received a major grant from Jobs for the Future, Achieving the Dream and the Helmsley Charitable Trust to be part of the first-ever community college-led STEM Regional Collaborative.
In 2016, Dr. Levinson accepted honors at The White House in Washington, D.C. for NCC’s participation in the White House Healthy Challenge, an initiative to inform college students about affordable health insurance. “I was lucky enough to meet First Lady Michelle Obama and stand behind her in a portrait,” he recalls. “I also got to pet Bo, the First Family’s dog!”
A few years earlier, Dr. Levinson was invited to attend President Obama’s State of the Union Address as the special guest of Congressman Jim Himes.
Recognizing the financial hardships faced by NCC students, Dr. Levinson has tirelessly raised funds for the NCC Foundation to provide student scholarships. In 2011, he was critical in raising $20 million during a Capital Campaign to provide equipment and technology for the college’s new Center for Science, Health and Wellness. Under his tenure, the NCC Foundation’s endowment has grown every year. In 2018, the Foundation awarded $1.5 million in scholarships to deserving students.
“NCC is a caring place. People here are nurturing and go out of their way to understand the complexities of each student’s life,” he notes. “The faculty and staff do heroic work. That feeling is imbedded here and it’s impressive. It’s why we have a good rep on the street.”
For more information on President Levinson’s academic achievements and teaching background, please refer to the attached resume.
To arrange an interview, contact Madeline Barillo, director of Marketing and Public Relations at (203) 857-7039 or firstname.lastname@example.org.