Another Interim for VP of Student Services

Story By: Edward Smith, Copy/News Editor

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Fresno City College named one more interim to the position of vice president of student services on Jan. 17.  

Joseph Madrigal now occupies the position which was held, also on an interim basis, by Rogelio Vasquez, who has returned to his position as dean of business.

The vice president of student services position has not been filled on a permanent basis since Chris Villa resigned in December 2015.

Presently, nine administration-level positions are held on interim bases, including vice president of instruction;  director of technology; dean of student services; CalWORKS director; financial aid director; college activities director; dean of libraries and building services manager.

“Knowing that I have a lot of interim positions, I have to look externally to bring in people,” Carole Goldsmith, president of the college, said.

Before Madrigal was appointed as interim vice president of student services, the college had assigned the role to Vasquez, filling Vasquez’s position as dean of the business division with Lydia Anderson on an interim basis.

“You’re robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Goldsmith said. “You can offer it [the position] to internal people, but that leaves a hole.”

Goldsmith said she had sought out Madrigal through PPL Incorporated, a recruiting agency for community colleges throughout California.

Madrigal worked at Parnell College in Salinas  for 11 years as vice president of student services. He has worked in Mendocino College and at Palomar College in San Diego.

“I have been in a medium-sized college, a small-sized college, and a large college,” Madrigal said. “I think that I have a very good blend of exposure to the college campuses in terms of size, depth, programs and in terms of services.”

California legislation, however, limits the amount of time a retired administrator can serve in an interim position by capping the amount of money one can earn after retirement.

“I’m here to do the best I can,” Madrigal said. “What can you accomplish in four months? That’s kind of scary.”

The problem is exacerbated by the scope of the student services division.

“There are a lot of student services,” Goldsmith said. “You have student success, equity, the career center, CalWorks DSP&S, EOPs, financial aid. That is a very complex division with a lot of moving parts.”

All of the different functions can be difficult to manage for someone in a short-term position. Madrigal’s contract will end on May 17.  

“Stepping into a leadership position, sometimes you inherit something where perhaps things didn’t run smoothly,” Madrigal said. “There has been a lot of turnover here. I have to find a way to convince my staff that what I do and why I’m here is to promote success, as well as provide the leadership that they need to work together.”

Another function of student services is the DREAM center, which provides information and registration help for students who meet the eligibility for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This program, started by the Obama administration in June 2012, grants clemency to children under 16 by promising not to deport them.

Goldsmith seeks to expand the DREAM Center, especially given the uncertainties of the new administration in the nation’s capital.

The Rampage reported last semester that of the 1,400 FCC students who qualify for deferred action, the DREAM Center only helped about 200; the college president is committed to increasing its reach.

One obstacle with hiring a permanent vice president of student services is the recruitment process.

Goldsmith identifies two factors contributing to the difficulty of finding a qualified candidate for FCC.

Another problem is the pay.

“I haven’t delved into it too specifically, but I’m hoping that we will have some studies looking at all of our pay,” Goldsmith said. “I can tell you the real question is, if we are being competitive.”

FCC offers between $120,000 to $145,000 a year for the position, based on the candidate’s experience and schooling. According to an October 2016 update on Payscale.com, the average salary across the nation is $160,000.

A more complex part of the problem is convincing candidates to come to the Central Valley.

“It’s difficult sometimes to attract talent to Fresno because Fresno has this self-loathing,” Goldsmith said. “We’re the fifth largest city in the state; we need to be able to showcase that.”

Candidate pools are sought across the nation and openings are advertised at colleges and hiring firms.

“We’re doing a social media blitz telling a story about FCC, the first community college in the entire system,” Goldsmith said. “There’s something about being first that resonates well. We have an incredible history; we just need to tell it better.”

 

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