The next Contra Costa College president will be an outsider.
The college Screening Committee, which vetted numerous candidates, narrowed its search for a president to four finalists on Friday. None of the finalists has ever worked at the college or in the district.
The candidates, one of whom will be assume the permanent role of CCC president on July 1, will participate in a public forum in the Fireside Room on Thursday from 12:30 to 5:15 p.m.
“(The selection of the president) is the most important thing that’s happening on campus this semester,” said ASU President Rodney Wilson, who serves on the Screening Committee. “This president is going to decide what programs are going to continue, determine if we’re going to do more layoffs and determine next year’s budget.”
The candidates are Deborah Budd, vice chancellor of educational services at the Peralta Community College District in Oakland; Brian Ellison, vice president of instruction and student services of San Diego Continuing Education; Denise Noldon, vice president of student development and enrollment management at Folsom Lake College; and Christopher Villa, vice president of student services at Fresno City College.
CCC Director of Business Services Mariles Magalong, head of the Screening Committee, said Thursday’s forum will give CCC students, faculty, staff and managers an opportunity to meet and ask the candidates questions. She said few people outside of the committee know the finalists.
“We are going to invite the whole community,” Magalong said. “(But) all we’re going to tell people are the times of the interviews.”
Candidates will have the microphone for an hour each, with a 15-minute break between speakers. Dr. Ellison will open the forum, followed by Dr. Villa at 1:45 p.m., Dr. Budd at 3 p.m. and Dr. Noldon at 4:15 p.m.
Contra Costa Community College District Chancellor Helen Benjamin will conduct private interviews Monday and meet with the Screening Committee for feedback and to discuss the final selection, set for April 11.
The district Governing Board will then vote on the approval of the new hire on May 23. Interim President Dan Henry, former president McKinley Williams and the chosen finalist will begin transitioning activities in June before the new president takes charge July 1.
The application period began Dec. 15, two weeks before Williams retired from the position at the end of the fall 2011 semester and Henry took on the responsibility in January.
“We hired an interim president because we didn’t have time to recruit candidates for the full-time job,” Wilson said.
The application deadline was Feb. 15. An outside firm sorted applications until only 30 remained. The Screening Committee then narrowed it down to four.
Each candidate said they are looking forward to meeting CCC students and employees.
“The opportunity to speak with folks Thursday is one where I will introduce myself and provide them with my experience as an educator,” Ellison said. “I have a very broad background and I hope that plays out at Contra Costa College.”
Ellison has handled fiscal planning at San Diego Continuing Education since 2007. His institution offers primarily non-credit adult education classes. The college is part of the San Diego Community College District.
“I’ve worked in an urban setting like Contra Costa College before,” Ellison said. “I think that Contra Costa College’s priorities parallel much of what we’re doing here.”
Prior to his current job, Ellison was the dean of instruction at City College of San Francisco from 2000 to 2007.
Budd is the only finalist who works in the East Bay. She has become familiar with urban communities such as CCC’s ever since she moved to the Bay Area.
“I’ve lived in the Bay Area since 1986,” Budd said. “I’m all about the East Bay. I love it here.”
Budd has been with Peralta since 2007, when she began serving as the vice president of instruction at Berkeley City College. A year later, she served as the associate vice chancellor of academic affairs at the Peralta District Office from August 2008 until July 2010 when she took her current position. From 1999 to 2005, Budd worked at Chabot College in Hayward as the dean of applied health, physical education, athletics and community affairs.
Villa has worked in the community college and California State University systems since 1980.
He began serving as vice president of student services at Fresno City College in 2009. Before that position opened, he worked at Long Beach City College, Cal State-Northridge and San Jose State.
Villa looks forward to working to make community colleges more accessible even through a forecast of severe budget cuts.
“Anyone who plans to become a president is going to have to make some tough decisions,” he said. “Sustaining (course) sections is a really high priority. Students make it clear that it’s a priority for them.”
He said he already feels a connection to CCC and its community.
“When I walked around the campus and drove around San Pablo and Richmond, I really got a good vibe,” Villa said.
Noldon feels the same way.
“It’s a good match in terms of my background and experiences,” she said. “I’m really impressed with the breadth and diversity of the programs and services CCC offers.”
Noldon has served as vice president of student development and enrollment management at Folsom Lake College for seven years now. She has worked out of state as well as at Chabot College as the dean of counseling and matriculation.
Noldon said it is an honor to be a presidential finalist.
“I’m very pleased that the committee saw something in me that I can bring to the college,” she said. “We’ve had the same (budget) issues statewide. I’m prepared to deal with them.”
Wilson said he is looking forward to hearing what questions the audience asks the finalists Thursday.
“The candidates understand our demographic and our financial situation,” he said. “Anyone can ask questions.”
Noldon said she is enthusiastic about Thursday’s forum.
“Every single individual in the community has a stake in who becomes the next president,” she said “This is what the whole college system is all about in terms of participatory governance.”