Chancellor selects Noldon
Benjamin chooses next CCC president; board to vote May 23
Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 16:05
The 10th permanent president of Contra Costa College was named in a campuswide email from the district chancellor late Monday.
Dr. Denise Noldon, current vice president of student development and enrollment management at Folsom Lake College, was selected on April 11 by Chancellor Helen Benjamin to begin as CCC’s president July 1.
“(Noldon) is all about students and making sure they reach their goals,” Dr. Benjamin said. “She’ll be a great addition at the (Chancellor’s) Cabinet level and make an extraordinary president at CCC.”
The district Governing Board will vote on the selection by Benjamin on May 23. The Board will approve or reject a three-year contract for Noldon, 57.
“I got the sense people really wanted me to be there,” Noldon said early Tuesday morning, less than 24 hours after finding out she was selected. “I just think we have aligned philosophies, the same work ethic, doing what needs to be done to help students be successful.”
Noldon, one of four finalists for the position, will replace former president McKinley Williams, who retired at the end of 2011. The application period began Dec. 15, two weeks before Williams retired, and closed Feb. 15.
An outside firm, Community College Search Services, narrowed the search to 30 applicants. The college Screening Committee then chose the final four: Noldon, Dr. Deborah Budd from the Peralta Community College District, Dr. Brian Ellison of San Diego Community Education and Dr. Christopher Villa of Fresno City College.
The four — the only ones officially named as applicants in the process — were introduced for the first time to the college community March 15 at a forum in the Fireside Room where they answered questions submitted by the audience for an hour each and were then given a tour of the college’s service area by Williams, who was president for six years.
“I think she has a really good grasp of the community college and what its mission is,” Williams said. “She’s extremely student-oriented, which was obvious from the discussion I’ve had with her.
“She’s going to do the right thing leading the institution,” Williams said. “I’m pleased she was selected.”
The forum was recorded and watched by Benjamin, CCC interim and permanent president from 1997-2005, before she worked with a final Interview Committee including CCC Interim Vice President Donna Floyd, Foundation Board President Raphael Madrigal and West Contra Costa Unified School District Superintendent Bruce Harper.
“The chancellor elicits discussion and feedback from both committees,” Dr. Floyd said. “It’s not a unilateral decision that she makes.”
Floyd said she has known Noldon for nearly two decades, when the two worked together at Chabot College.
“She’s very committed to students. She’s serious, a smart woman,” Floyd said of Noldon.
The most daunting and immediate challenge facing Noldon if, and when, she becomes president will be dealing with the fifth straight year of budget cuts.
Interim President Dan Henry, who took over in January after Williams’ retirement, has been dealing with many of the same issues Noldon will.
“We can make cuts, but to maintain an excellent college and keep it comprehensive in the face of fiscal crisis will be challenging for a little while longer,” said Henry, whose term as interim president will end the day Noldon begins her tenure at the college.
The two share the experience of coming to CCC from another campus.
“There is a great deal of pride in, and commitment to, the college,” said Henry, who came from Los Medanos College. “There is very much a sense of family and community, a group of people who have a strong connection to the college and community.”
Furthermore, Noldon will have to acclimate herself to the shared governance leadership at CCC.
Students, faculty, staff and managers work together at all levels of decision making on campus and in the district, which is one reason why Noldon was chosen.
“You get to work with very strong leadership. Students, Classified Senate, faculty, these people work together for what’s best for Contra Costa College,” Henry said. “She’ll enjoy that kind of collegial atmosphere.”
Despite being from outside the college and the district, Henry said the new president will find a comfortable home at CCC.
“The college is a very friendly place and I think in general the college community takes the presidency seriously,” Henry said. “I’m sure she’ll feel honored to be selected. She should.”