Search begins for new Big Bend Community College president

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MOSES LAKE — Big Bend Community College trustees will conduct the search for a new president without using a consultant. Trustees decided on that and other issues surrounding the presidential search during a special meeting Wednesday.

Current president Terry Leas announced in August that he will retire after the 2019-20 academic year.

Board chair Steven McFadden will be chair of the search committee, projected to be about 15 people. Trustee Jon Lane also expressed interest in chairing the search committee, saying the search would be very time-consuming and that he had the time for it.

McFadden said the board chair is the point of contact when it comes to releasing information. In his opinion it would avoid confusion if he was also the search committee chair. In answer to a question from trustee Tom Stredwick, McFadden said he thought he would have enough time to devote to the search, even with his job.

Trustee Anna Franz moved to appoint McFadden as chair and Lane as the second trustee on the search committee, which was approved on a 4-1 vote. Lane voted no.

Trustees discussed hiring an outside consultant firm at length. Franz asked senior administrators for their opinions, and whether or not hiring a consultant would change the workload for college staff. Linda Schoonmaker, vice president for finance and administration, said she didn’t think it would make a difference.

After receiving negative comments in interviews from departing staff members, college officials commissioned a report to find out what employees thought of the administration. The replies indicated a lack of trust in the administration from some staff members. McFadden asked how that should be factored into the search process.

Franz asked Kim Garza, vice-president of human resources, for her opinion on the question of hiring a consultant. Garza said she thought that was a tough question. But in her opinion college staff have confidence in the HR department.

Salah Abed, representing the faculty association, said the faculty’s primary concern is that the search be as transparent as possible. The report was, in his opinion, more about symptoms than the underlying issues, he said, and that transparency is a critical factor for the faculty.

Faculty members want to make sure the process is unbiased and that the faculty has a voice, Abed said.

The search committee will have representatives from the faculty, students and non-teaching staff, as well as business and community. Bryce Humpherys, vice-president of learning and student success, said in his opinion the most important question was whether or not a consultant could help the college officials find a larger and better-qualified candidate pool.

Trustee Juanita Richards said she was concerned about attracting a good candidate pool, but that talking to the staff allayed that fear.

Some members of the search committee, the faculty representative being one example, will be nominated by their professional associations. Others will be selected by the trustees. The board will approve the committee members at its October meeting, with the search committee’s first meeting in November.

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