Glendale Community College names interim president

The Glendale Community College Board of Trustees has named a veteran college administrator with a background in music as interim president, closing out a monthlong search for a temporary steward that at its peak included 22 candidates.

Seasoned educator Jim Riggs will replace Dawn Lindsay starting next week, pending the finalization of his contract, board President Armine Hacopian announced Monday.

“[He] is very immersed in the whole idea of leadership with service in mind,” Hacopian said. “He is a great conflict manager, from what we understand. He really respects shared governance.... His focus is students, student success, and also he has been known as a peacemaker.”

Lindsay is leaving to become president of a community college in Maryland. Monday marked her final board of trustees meeting.

Riggs is a professor in the education doctoral program at Cal State Stanislaus, where he has taught the courses “Foundations of the Modern Community College” and “Roles and Responsibilities of Community College Administrators.”

Before that, he served 10 years as president of Columbia College in the Yosemite Community College District, according to his biography on the Stanislaus website.

Riggs earned a master's degree in music at Eastern Washington University before completing his doctorate in higher education at USC. He served as music director and conductor of the Okanogan Valley Orchestra Assn. in Omak, Wash., from 1977 to 1982.

Thirty years of experience in the community college system has prepared him well for the one-year stint in Glendale, Riggs said in a phone interview. In addition, he has spent the last several years teaching and supervising the research of doctoral students, giving him a perspective different from other administrators.

“I have a good handle on what the issues are, what some of the best practices are, and maybe good ideas that haven't been tested yet,” Riggs said.

He added that he was looking forward to taking what he learns back to his job once the year is up, Riggs said.

“I figured getting back in the field for a year would really help and refresh me as far as teaching these students,” he said.

The next year should provide quite the refresher.

After reducing expenditures by $6.8 million during the 2011-12 year, the college is staring at a roughly $8.2-million deficit in 2012-13. Included in that gap is an estimated $4.6-million mid-year chop that will fall if a November tax initiative fails.

What's more, Riggs steps into a position still haunted by an esteemed forebear. When John Davitt retired in May 2006 after 21 years on the job, he was the longest-seated community college president in California. The campus administration building bears his name, and his presence at events always garners applause.

Neither his immediate successor, Audre Levy, nor Lindsay — who logged six years in Glendale between them — sustained the level of rapport that Davitt enjoyed with faculty and other constituent groups.

Still, Glendale Community College officials said they are upbeat about the future. Per rules established before the search began, Riggs is not eligible to apply for the permanent president position. Yet they believe he is the man for the interim job.

Board of trustees Vice President Ann Ransford noted that Riggs authors the blog “Brave New Community Colleges,” which is aimed at facilitating conversations about how to improve the community college system.

“He is in touch with a lot of community college folks and … I think we are going to find him a very wonderful person to work with,” Ransford said.

Twitter: @megankoneil

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