Three Fresno-area colleges search for new leaders. You can help decide who gets hired
BY ASHLEIGH PANOO
FEBRUARY 05, 2021 07:59 AM
As several of the Fresno-area’s top college leaders retire or move on this year, it has put the central San Joaquin Valley in a position of searching for three people who will shape the future of higher education in the region.
Fresno State, State Center Community College District, and West Hills Community College District are already in different stages of the hiring process.
Former Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro left in January to become chancellor of the 23-campus California State University. Paul Parnell, chancellor of State Center, will retire in July. And Stuart Van Horn will retire in June after serving four years at West Hills.
It’s not uncommon to have several higher education positions up for filling, according to Benjamin Duran, executive director of the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium.
“They can come in clusters,” he said. “In this particular case, it was just kind of a perfect storm, if you will, where the three of them all left at the same time.”
But it could be an important time for the public to have input about the qualities these next leaders should possess.
“It goes without saying, but anytime a leader of higher education or K-12 education is going to be replaced somewhere locally, the public should have their voice heard,” Duran said. “I think that those leaders should reflect, to some extent, the kind of profile that the public and the institutions think are important.”
Across the Valley, several other college leaders were hired in 2020, including U.C. Merced Chancellor Juan Muñoz, and Madera Community College President Angel Reyna.
FRESNO STATE SEARCHES FOR NEW PRESIDENT
California State University will hold a virtual forum from noon to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, outlining the search process. Community members wishing to speak must register online by 5 p.m. Friday. The open forum will be livestreamed to the CSU website.
The community can also fill out a survey which asks which professional qualifications, experiences and personal attributes the next president should have.
Members of the search committee are:
Joseph I. Castro, Chancellor
Lillian Kimbell, Chair, CSU Board of Trustees
Jane W. Carney, Trustee and Chair, Search Committee
Diego Arambula , Trustee
Wenda Fong, Vice Chair, Board of Trustees
Krystal Mae Raynes, Trustee
Robert S. Nelsen, CSU Sacramento, CSU President Representative
Paula Castadio, Fresno State Vice President for Advancement, Administration Representative
Thomas Holyoke, Chair, Fresno State Academic Senate
Joy J. Goto, Faculty Representative
Jenelle S. Pitt, Faculty Representative
Georgianna Negron-Long, Staff Representative
Jacqueline Campos Ledezma, Student Representative
Elizabeth Rocha Zuñiga, Student Representative
Edgar Blunt, Alumni Association Representative
Nicole Linder, University Advisory Board Representative
Carol Chandler, Community Representative
Clint Williams, Community Representative
The search is expected to take six months to a year, the university has said. In the meantime, Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, the university’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, has stepped in as interim.
STATE CENTER COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT
State Center is the parent district of Fresno City College, Reedley College, and Clovis and Madera Community colleges. The board of trustees could appoint an interim as soon as its next meeting on March 2, which they say would allow for a smooth transition when Parnell departs on July 6.
It’s early on in the process, but the district is gearing up to collect public input soon, according to board president Annalisa Perea.
“I think one of the first important steps is to hold (a) virtual forum in the next couple months and really have an opportunity to hear from our faculty and students,” Perea said, “and really just give people an opportunity to tell us what they want to see in the next Chancellor.”
And although it may not be uncommon to have several higher ed leader spots open, it could create competition in the search process, according to Julianna Mosier, the vice chancellor of Human Resources.
There are “a number of other chancellor and superintendent (and) president searches already underway across the state,” she said during a board meeting on Tuesday, “including Kern (Community College District) and West Hills locally, and San Diego (Community College District), and then El Camino (College) and many others, which will impact the pool of candidates we are able to attract.”
The district is looking to hire a search firm to garner a greater pool of national candidates.
A preliminary timeline shows the job posting could go up in August/September, applicants could be screened and a public forum held in November/December, and the appointment could be made in January/February 2022. The chancellor would start in spring or summer 2022.
WEST HILLS COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT
A national search to replace Van Horn began in October, and candidates are being interviewed at this time, said spokesperson Amber Myrick.
Public forums will be held the week of March 15, she said.
West Hills has campuses in Lemoore, Coalinga and Firebaugh.
The board of trustees is expected to appoint the new chancellor at their April 20, 2021 meeting, with a start date of July 1.
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