Search for new chancellor begins

Los Medanos College held a chancellor search meeting Monday, May 23 in L-109. Faculty, staff and the few students who showed up were encouraged to get coffee and water as they waited for the meeting to start.

The new chancellor will be appointed January 2017, after current CCCCD Chancellor Helen Benjamin retires later this year. “I have one of the three votes, so I felt it was my duty to be here amongst faculty and staff,” said CCCCD Governing Board Member Greg Endholm.

President Bob Kratochvil then introduced Association of Community College Trustees consultant Pam Fisher who proctored the forum and served as the main speaker. “We’re the first of several colleges she’s speaking to,” said Kratochvil.

Fisher talked about how generally, people only see community colleges as alternatives to universities. She said those people would be mistaken.

“I’d like to think we’re the biggest game in town,” said Fisher.

She also said part of the reason she holds community colleges near and dear, is because she graduated from one.

“I’m a Contra Costa alum and I am very proud of that,” said Fisher.

One of the problems with choosing chancellors and “there are more and more presidents and chancellors retiring more than ever,” she said. She cited age as being the main reason for this as opposed to the job’s challenges. She expressed confidence in the fact that things will work itself out in that department

Fisher complimented the CCCCD saying “your district has a really good reputation,” but that she wants the next chancellor to be able to  “entice the best of the best to come here.”

She said the purpose for having this particular meeting is “to make sure you’re familiar with the process and what will be going on in the next six or seven months.”

“Eventually, it comes down to what your institution needs,” said Fisher. She then warned those who were on the search committee that their fellow staff and faculty members would try and breach confidentiality. She said they needed to keep quiet and that they can’t tell even their significant others any information because it could have consequences for them and prospective candidates.

A member of the classified staff at LMC raised concerns about the “the way we get glossed over is truly big,” she said. “It has to be highlighted that classified staff is very much a part of the community.” She said she hopes the next chancellor won’t just be sympathetic, but will actively help classified staff with their issues.

Fisher shifted the conversation to enrollment, addressing Kratochvil about the numbers. Kratochvil responded by saying enrollment is bit higher for Diablo Valley College and LMC but “remarkably lower” for Contra Costa College.

“How do I promote you?” asked Fisher.

Director of Marketing and Media Design Barbara Cella said one of the strengths of the CCCCD is that it has a strong partnership with the business industry. Physics instructor Jeannie Bonner acknowledged LMC selection as one of the top 150 community colleges in California.

“We have a lot more diversity than some of the other districts,” said newly elected student body president Israel Castro, noting that the CCCCD is more diverse than even the Southern California colleges.

Fisher then posed the question: How do the three colleges get along?

Bonner said that because LMC’s students “move around a lot,” there is camaraderie between the student bodies. She did acknowledge, however, that it’s harder to be close to people from CCC because it’s “so far out.”

“I feel like I got a lot out of this,” said Fisher, signifying the end of the meeting.