Article - Office of College Advancement

National group contracted to find community college's next president

By Wes Bowers.

Thursday, November 1, 2007—Reprinted from Fremont Bulletin.

The Ohlone Community College Board of Trustees voted 5-0 at its Oct. 24 meeting to enter into an agreement with a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit group to begin the search for a new president.

The Association of Comm-unity College Trustees is a non-profit educational organization of governing boards, representing more than 6,500 elected and appointed trustees who govern more than 1,200 community, technical and junior colleges in the United States.

Pam Fisher, a representative of ACCT, presented an overview of her group's process for selecting a new president at last week's meeting.

She said that there are 25 openings for chief executive officers at the college level across California, and about 150 openings nationwide.

Fisher said ACCT has done 300 president searches nationwide in the last 15 years.

"Across California, for that matter, across the country, the turnover for CEOs or chancellors is extreme right now," she told the board. "I'd like to say it's not because the job is tough the job is tough. But it's really because of the aging of our leadership."

Fisher said that many of the older faculty members and administrators in education are all thinking of retirement now, much like Ohlone President Doug Treadway, who will retire at the school year's end.

If the board were to choose ACCT for its presidential search, Fisher said she would be the representative working with the college.

Fisher, a native Californian, said she has 30 years experience in the state's education system at all levels.

According to Fisher, once ACCT is asked to work on the search, it would immediately begin setting up a search committee.

She said the committee would comprise of members from Ohlone's faculty senate, its unions, its administration, students and community members. Two members of the Ohlone Board of Trustees would also be a part of the search committee.

When the committee is formed, Fisher said she would spend several days at the school, asking the college community what they'd like to see in a president, as well as what major challenges they believe are facing Ohlone.

Then, the school would host public forums asking the community at large the same questions.

Once the forums are completed, a draft announcement would be produced, outlining the college's answers and minimum qualifications for candidates, Fisher said.

When the announcement is signed off, in-depth recruiting would begin.

Fisher said a benefit to attracting candidates for the position would be to create printed brochures, which would cost as much as $5,000.

However, she explained many colleges opt out of creating brochures, as the information is generally posted on the Web.

"Even if we do a printed brochure, we'll want to put it on your Web site, and we'll put it on our Web site, because people check that regularly for job openings across the country," she said.

"We're finding colleges that want to opt-out and do it all electronically are getting exactly the same results as everyone else," she added.

Fisher said the entire recruitment period could take 60 to 90 days. Because of the length of recruitment, she encouraged the board and the college to consider holding public forums before the holidays.

At the end of the recruitment period, the search committee will review applications and invite candidates to the college. Interviews would be conducted two weeks later, according to Fisher.

The candidate pool would be narrowed to about five applicants, and ACCT would do background and reference checks. A public forum would then be held so the community can meet the candidates. The board would then decide on a final candidate and make an offer.

Fisher said the entire search process takes about six months, and added that April 30 would be the most ideal date to have a potential president identified.

The search would cost about $25,000, she said.

"I think that using ACCT is the best route," trustee Richard Watters said. "I think they have a vested interest in education and placement."

However, trustees Bill McMillin and Bob Brunton were concerned that two fellow trustees, Trisha Tahmasbi and President Nick Nardolillo, were not present to give their input.

They also wanted to hear search proposals from other firms and groups before making a final decision.

Brunton initially suggested a special meeting within a week to execute discussions.

But trustee John Weed said the process needed to be started very soon.

"I want to get this started as quickly as possible, and I think getting a decision or offer out as quickly as we can is critical to the future of this college," he said.

"Whatever it takes to expedite the process I'm happy to go along with ACCT and set up a special meeting," he added. "I'm also supportive of bringing in other people to discuss other options. Just as long as it doesn't slow the process."

After a short discussion regarding the recommended timeline of the search, as well as the intent to draw up a contract with ACCT by the board's Nov. 14 meeting, Brunton and McMillin were convinced.

The search process for a new president will begin immediately.

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