Mesalands board finalizes presidential profile

Russell Anglin

The Mesalands Community College Board of Trustees spent more than two hours Monday evening with Mesalands President Phillip O. Barry and Association of Community Colleges Trustees consultant Wayne Newton finalizing a presidential profile that lists the challenges and opportunities the next Mesalands president should be prepared to face. The profile also outlines “ideal characteristics” the college’s Initial Presidential Screening Committee will seek out in prospective presidents and lists the minimum required qualifications for the job.

Mesalands public relations director Kimberly Hanna said the college will post the profile on its website no later than Thursday, and at Tuesday night’s meeting the board agreed that applications for the job will be accepted until Jan. 24.

The bulk of the meeting focused on how the profile should be phrased in order to balance between the need to let job candidates know they will be working in a rural environment and the importance of emphasizing the community’s potential for growth.

“I wouldn’t want you to deceive (job candidates),” Newton said at the meeting. “I also wouldn’t want you to limit your potential for a healthy group of dynamic candidates, either. Quite frankly, I took the very opposite approach from Phil (Barry) in eliminating anything to do with rural or small or isolated, because I think you can deal with that when you meet these people. You’ve got all kinds of opportunities to level with them.'”

“We’ve had numerous instructors that came here and lasted less than a year because their family did not like it because it was too small, too rural, not enough shopping … everything that we’re talking about here,” board clerk Jim Streetman said in response. “It’s just, you need to be up front. I still think that (profile statement) needs to be ‘service to a rural community college’ with what Dr. Barry said, ‘potential for growth.’ I think that says it best, because the potential is there, and yes, we are a rural community college.”

The board ultimately voted for the profile to read “The College seeks a dynamic, visionary and enterprising leader who will guide and set the stage for expansion, stability and service to a vibrant and growing community college located in a rural community with potential for growth.”

The board also decided to only consider applicants who have earned doctoral degrees from regionally accredited universities, and chose to emphasize accountability, knowledge of academic matters, and “ability to adapt to a rural lifestyle and values” as ideal characteristics for the position.

“I think if we get somebody who really understands the academic part of it and the learning process for students, a lot of this other stuff will fall into place, like fundraising and everything else,” board Chairman J. Bronson Moore said.

On Oct. 13, the board of trustees selected a presidential screening committee including trustees Streetman and Moore, public representatives Roger Bowe and Jeff Lewalling and college representatives David Arias, Connie Chavez, Craig Currell, C.J. Gentile, Natalie Gillard, Janet Griffiths, Jim Morgan and Beth Sisneros, according to a Mesalands press release.

The ACCT will narrow the pool of candidates in January based on the criteria listed in the presidential profile, Hanna said. The college screening committee will then interview the remaining candidates and choose semi-finalists for the job in mid-February. The board of trustees plans to select the next president in March.