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Candidates for District Chancellor Pared to 10 : Education: Community college board will conduct interviews and further narrow the field. A decision could come in November.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Almost a year after the death of its chancellor, the Ventura County Community College District has finally narrowed its choices for his replacement to 10 candidates, each to be interviewed next week, college officials said.

Following initial interviews with a special selection committee on Tuesday and Friday, three to five of the candidates will face a second round of interviews with the district’s board of trustees. The board will make the final decision.

Interim Chancellor Jim Walker said the district may be able to announce its new leader as early as November and that by Jan. 1, the candidate should be behind a desk at the district’s Ventura headquarters.

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Since Chancellor Thomas Lakin died from an infection in November, five top administrators have shuffled to interim positions at each of the district’s three colleges, creating an air of uncertainty and thwarting long-term planning.

“We really can’t afford to wait any longer,” said Timothy Hirschberg, president of the board. “We are coming up on the one-year anniversary of Lakin’s death and, while we have good people, I feel that there has been a leadership vacuum and that is what this district really needs to move forward.”

None of the 10 candidates for the chancellor’s seat currently work in the district, although all have chief-executive-level experience at a community college, said Jerry Pauley, district vice chancellor of human resources.

While most of the finalists are still working within a community college district, some now act as consultants to educational institutions, he said. About half are from California. The rest come from throughout the United States.

Because some of the candidates are well-known nationally and in the state, Pauley said, the district has promised to keep their identities confidential.

“We are trying to protect our candidates so people will feel free to apply to our district,” he said.

The 23-member selection committee--composed of faculty members, administrators, students, non-teaching staff members and five community representatives appointed by a trustee--was approved in February and began reviewing 55 resumes in early September. Of these, only one was from within the district and only two were from women, according to sources close to the search.

The original batch was narrowed to 26 candidates deemed qualified to fill the position. Using a point system, each member of the committee individually graded these applicants. Those with the highest overall rankings were chosen for interviews. The final group includes one of the two women who applied, said a member of the search committee.

Jane Rozanski, an administrator at the Camarillo Health Care District who was appointed by Hirschberg, said committee members showed a surprising degree of consensus on the top 10 candidates.

“The process was extremely thorough, including representatives from all facets of the community college district,” she said. “There were no severe differences.”

All agreed, for instance, that the new chancellor should be fiscally responsible, innovative in terms of curriculum, and able to work well with both faculty members and administrators, said Deborah Ventura, academic Senate president of Ventura College and a committee member.

One key issue discussed was whether the new chancellor would fully support collaborative efforts in the areas of instruction and organization with the long-planned Cal State University campus in Ventura County.

In next week’s interviews, each candidate will be asked identical questions developed by the selection committee, which expects to choose the remaining finalists the following week. On Tuesday, the trustees are expected to set dates for interviews with those finalists.

Though the process has taken more than 10 months, Hirschberg said the involvement of all interested parties ensures that the new chancellor will not meet resistance when he or she joins the district.

“At least we can be confident that whoever comes to the board for interviews will be a good fit,” he said.


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