HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The search for a new president of Holyoke Community College is over. The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education voted unanimously Tuesday to select Christina Royal to lead the school, which serves about 11,500 students each year.

The state board’s decision comes weeks after the HCC Board of Trustees unanimously recommended Royal as their choice for the college presidency.

Royal currently serves as the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Inver Hills Community College in Minnesota. She is a graduate of Marist College, with a PhD from Capella University.

Royal is replacing William Messner, who retired in August after 12 years as the college’s president. She will be only the fourth president in the 70-year history of Holyoke Community College, and the first woman to hold that office.

Holyoke Community College President William Messner retiring

HCC Board of Trustees Chair Robert Gilbert said that they are excited about having Royal as their new president. “I think you’ll see a lot of interesting thoughts and ideas coming from Christina. I know we picked the right person for the coming years to continue the mission of HCC,” Gilbert said in an HCC news release sent to 22News.

William Fogarty, HCC’s vice president of admissions and finance, has been serving as interim president of the college since Messner’s departure. Royal will take office on January 9.