Editor's note: The following is the complete text of President Tom Belding's remarks recommending Dr. Michael LaSusa for the position of superintendent for the . These remarks were made at the Jan. 9, 2012 Board of Education meeting held at .
For the past 18 months Dr. LaSusa has done an outstanding job as Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction—the second ranking position in the District. Prior to that time, as most of you know, Mike was a teacher, supervisor, Dean of Students, and Principal in Chatham. Mike is a Phi Beta Kappa Summa Cum Laude graduate of Gettysburg College, and achieved a 4.0 average in his Doctoral program at Rutgers.
Throughout his career, Mike has developed a reputation as a skilled instructor, administrator, team builder, and an educational leader. He is held in the highest regard both within Chatham and in wider professional circles. He was a natural choice to be Assistant Superintendent, and is now a natural choice to be our next Superintendent.
Over the past year we did set the stage for this. We we hired Dennis Fyffe as a one year Interim Supt when Jim O'Neill announced his retirement. Two of Dennis's chief assignments were to assess Mike, and mentor him. We also made it very clear to Mike that if he were to be considered for the Superintendency, he would have to continue to demonstrate his capability, and an unwavering commitment.
In a series of meetings last fall our expectations were confirmed, and in November the Board opted to move ahead. We posted the position internally only. Mike applied—indeed, he was the only applicant—and, just before the holidays, he was interviewed by the full board. It was then the Board's decision to enter contract talks with Mike; Rich Connors and I represented the Board in those discussions within guidelines the entire Board approved. All parties agreed, and thus his appointment is on the agenda tonight. His contract is pending approval by the Executive County Superintendent of Morris County.
A note on timing: we acted in the fall and early winter in order to allow sufficient time to act on other personnel matters. If it had turned out that Mike was not the right candidate, we would have needed time to find someone else. If we decided, as we have, that he is the right candidate, then we need sufficient time to find his replacement as Assistant Superintendent. We have been advised that there is a shortage of strong candidates for this position; to conduct a solid search and have the position filled by July 1, we need to start now.
Returning to the Superintendent position - we do not make this appointment lightly. We expect that Mike's performance so far will be indicative of the job he will do as Superintendent, and we feel strongly that he is the best choice for the job.
Chatham is extremely fortunate to have such a well-qualified internal candidate. Many benefits will flow from having someone assume the reigns who knows so well the lay of the land, and so clearly has the support of the staff and administration. Though I caution those who may think that nice guy demeanor means he's a push-over; rumor has it that once you become a superintendent the real coat of armor comes out—so be on your guard!
To ensure that Mike has every chance for success, in addition to continuing to be mentored by Mr. Fyffe through the end of this school year, we have on the agenda this evening (Finance, Item 7) the appointment of West Hudson Associates, the principal of which, Mr. Bill Librera. Bill will personally mentor Mike in the coming year. Bill is an outstanding candidate for this task. Bill is a former NJ Commissioner of Education, served as a Superintendent in multiple districts, and brings a wealth of experience and contacts. Our goal is to ensure that Mike has every chance to become a truly outstanding Superintendent; this will be a distinct benefit too all concerned, particularly the children of Chatham. Mr. LiBrera will also serve as an advisor to us in the search for the next Assistant Superintendent.
I'm honored to make this recommendation to the Board.