Interim positions a concern in accreditation report

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Tomas Kassahun, Rampage Reporter
February 15, 2012
Filed under News

 The frequent change of leadership in recent years has left a glaring hole in the 2012 evaluation report of the State Center Community College District.  The report, provided by The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges Western Association of Schools and Colleges, found that the administrative changes have brought about instability.  
Although the district was commended for its integrated planning efforts, the Accrediting team concluded that “changes in senior leadership at the district and college have resulted in uneven and ineffective starts and stops in district and college integrated planning.”
The report adds that, “Interviews at both the district office and college revealed that the future plans for college and center expansion, enrollment management and the effects of the considered changes were misunderstood as a result of either incomplete or erroneous information.  Comments about frequent senior management changes and instability, until recently, were noted as contributing factors.”
  According to Chancellor Deborah Blue, the evaluation report is pointing to one position in particular and that’s the vice chancellor for educational services and workforce development. The position has seen several changes since the last accreditation visit in 2005.
It is currently held by Robert Fox, former vice president of student services at FCC until 2009.
Blue believes the position is absolutely essential as it is responsible for several duties including curriculum, workforce development, strategic planning, grants, and international education.
“Since I’ve been here I’ve taken the time to get a sense of what needs to be done in that office and what kind of support we need to provide for the colleges,” said Blue. “I had my own idea about the need for stability but I want to reevaluate that in the context of our district and our culture. In the process I’ve realized that position is absolutely essential. It has to be filled permanently.”
 Still it is only one of several positions the district needs to fill permanently. At Willow International, the search for a campus president is set to begin. Terry Kershaw, who is currently the vice chancellor of the North Centers, will also serve as the campus president until his retirement this summer. But by July 1, the district hopes to hire a new person for Willow. At that point the title of vice chancellor of the North Centers will not be used any longer. Instead the position will only be campus president of Willow International.
 However, the campus president for Willow will report to the Reedley College president directly and to the chancellor indirectly until candidacy is granted. “Once candidacy is granted, it will switch. The campus president will report directly to the Chancellor and indirectly to the Reedley president,” said Blue.
At Fresno City College, the search for a new president is also underway. The search committee will recommend finalists to the Board of Trustees on Feb. 29. The search will then continue with cabinet interviews, campus tours, chancellor interviews, public forums, and board interviews throughout the month of March. The Board of Trustees will then appoint a new president on April 3. The new president will begin his tenure in July.
Blue says the changes in administration have affected the planning process. “When we filled the position of vice chancellor on an interim basis, there were so many things that needed to be addressed,” said Blue. “We assigned different duties to different administrators in addition to what they already do. We needed to get moving on our planning and we knew it before the commission came.”

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