Joyce Helens, a veteran community college leader, has been named acting president of Rochester Community and Technical College (RCTC) a month after its last president resigned under fire.

Helens, who has been president of St. Cloud Technical and Community College since 2006, will replace Leslie McClellon, who stepped down in December after 18 months in office amid mounting criticism over her spending and hiring decisions.

In a news release Thursday, Steven Rosenstone, chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system, called Helens “the ideal person to guide RCTC through this transition.” He said he hopes to name a permanent replacement by fall.

The Rochester campus had been roiled by controversy for months as faculty members, staff and students clashed with McClellon over her management style. In September, she raised eyebrows by spending $10,000 on a gold chain and ceremonial mace to mark her formal installation and the college’s 100th anniversary. In November, anger grew after she named a new vice president who was linked to a scandal at another university involving the mishandling of sexual-assault complaints. The nominee bowed out after a campus outcry.

McClellon announced in December that she would resign “in the best interest of the college” and take a new position as a senior director at MnSCU.

Rosenstone described Helens as a “thoughtful and effective leader” with a proven track record.

“Her deep experience means that she will be ready on day one to help RCTC prepare for the search and recruitment of its new, permanent president,” he said.

He also named Peg Shroyer, vice president of academic affairs at St. Cloud, to serve as acting president of that college in Helens’ absence.