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College Trustees Close to Decision : Education: District may offer chancellor post to Philip Westin of Golden West College. He would replace the late Thomas Lakin.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Nearly a year after the death of Thomas G. Lakin, trustees of the Ventura County Community College District appear to have settled on a permanent replacement.

Two of five trustees said Thursday that they would support hiring Golden West College President Philip Westin when the board meets in special session Monday night. A third trustee voiced support for Westin, but declined to disclose his vote.

Board President Timothy D. Hirschberg was unequivocal: “I’m just one vote, but I’d feel very comfortable having [Westin] at the head of the table for our meetings.”

Trustee Allan W. Jacobs also endorsed the 50-year-old president of Golden West College in Huntington Beach.

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“If all the other board members agree and any last-minute questions are covered, then I think it’ll be a done deal,” said Jacobs, who was part of a team that visited Westin’s campus. “He’ll be a very innovative, task-oriented kind of chancellor.”

An offer to Westin would cap a yearlong search in which a committee of teachers, administrators and others reviewed more than five dozen candidates from across the country.

In the immediate aftermath of Lakin’s sudden death from a bacterial infection last Nov. 27, trustees vowed to name a chancellor by July 1.

But disagreement among members of the search committee--and a short period during which the board considered having no chancellor at all--delayed the process.

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Moorpark College President James Walker has served as interim chancellor since Lakin died. But Walker did not apply for the permanent position and said he looks forward to returning to Moorpark College.

Westin said he would accept the chancellor’s post if offered and could begin work on Jan. 2.

“I hope you’re right,” Westin said Thursday when told that a majority of trustees appear to prefer him. “I think it’s a real fit.”

Vice Chancellor Jerry D. Pauley called to ask Westin to attend Monday’s board meeting, Westin said. But the candidate has a scheduling conflict.

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“I told them I would be available by telephone if they need to reach me,” Westin said. “And I gave the number where I’ll be.”

Lakin earned about $120,000 annually as chief of the three-campus community college district. Westin has no experience managing a college district but has run the college in Huntington Beach for 2 1/2 years.

No trustees or district officials would comment on the salary they plan to offer Westin. Any contract would be made public after it is signed, Hirschberg said.

Trustee John D. Tallman stopped short of definitively stating that he would vote to hire Westin. “I think he’d make a fine chancellor,” Tallman said. “He’s a bright, young up-and-comer.

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“He’s got a good record there and that makes him a good prospect,” Tallman added. “Golden West is administered very businesslike, and they’re in a county that’s not famous for that.”

Leeann Colvin, president of the union that represents the district’s non-teaching employees, said she also supports Westin.

“It doesn’t sound like he’s someone who’s going to rule with an iron fist,” she said. “But rather someone who will work with the employees and listen to the employees.”

One of the new leader’s first challenges may be to satisfy the classified employees union, which wants a 3% pay raise in February, Colvin said.

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Westin, who three years ago spent a week with Lakin at a leadership training seminar in Washington, D.C., said his style probably would differ from that of the late chancellor.

“I didn’t know his management style, but I understand he was somewhat autocratic,” Westin said. “I’m very much the opposite. I’m a team builder and a team player.

“That’s my approach and that’s what works.”

’ I understand [Thomas G. Lakin] was somewhat autocratic. I’m very much the opposite. I’m a team builder and a team player. ‘

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