BY ETHAN FORMAN
---- — DANVERS — Retiring North Shore Community College President Wayne Burton describes Janice Forsstrom as someone who “lives and breathes this college.”
She’s worked for the college for 34 years in various capacities, most recently as vice president of administration and finance. In a few weeks, she’ll take over as interim president for Burton, who will retire at the end of this month.
Forsstrom, a Peabody resident, will oversee a community college with four campuses, a $50 million budget and 8,000 students, plus another 5,000 students taking noncredit courses. She will fill in during the search for a permanent successor to Burton. It could be late fall before a new president is named, she said.
“She’s an extremely talented woman who has been a tremendous support for me,” Burton said.
The chief financial officer of the college since 1999, Forsstrom was involved in everything from fiscal matters to the direction of the community college. She had a hand in developing the college’s last three five-year strategic plans.
She also had oversight on the completion of a “net zero” or highly energy-efficient Health Professions and Student Services building on the Danvers campus. And she’s working on the project to renovate and expand the McGee building on the community college’s Lynn campus, as well as the creation of a culinary and cosmetology campus in Lynn.
“I’m kind of excited for it,” she said of her upcoming role as interim president. “It’s an opportunity to work with people on a different level.”
Forsstrom, 62, is a Marblehead High graduate who began working at the college in 1974 when the school was about 9 years old and at 3 Essex St. in downtown Beverly.
At the time she was hired, George Traicoff was president of the college. In fact, she has worked for only three college presidents. When Traicoff retired in 1999 after 26 years, she worked under Larry Reeves for a year before Burton was hired and served for 13 years.
She remembers the first time she walked in the door of the red-brick building in Beverly and saw a sign that read: “Welcome, friend.”
“It made me think this would be a nice place to work,” Forsstrom said. She started as a staff assistant in the grants department and worked her way up to grants coordinator and then director of special projects and affirmative action. She was comptroller for 10 years and assistant dean of finance for six. She became dean of administration, finance and technology in 2000, and she has been in her present job since 2003.
“The college has been good to me; it really has,” Forsstrom said.
There’s presently a search firm and committee looking for Burton’s successor. Until then, Forsstrom said: “My role is to kind of hold things steady.”
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.