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Board names Julie Huckestein as new Chemeketa president

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By Matthew Skog – Photo by David Hallett

Chemeketa’s top job has finally been filled.

On Feb. 18, the Chemeketa Board of Education unanimously voted to appoint interim president Julie Huckestein as the college’s next president.

Huckestein had served as interim president since the beginning of July 2014, following the departure of former president Cheryl Roberts.

Before serving as interim president, Huckestein had held the position of Chief Financial Officer at Chemeketa.

The board voted to end its presidential search on Feb. 10 after hearing the recommendation of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee. The committee, which reviewed 21 applications and interviewed five of the applicants, recommended that no one be moved forward.

During the Feb. 18 meeting, chairman Ed Dodson presented three options on how the board could proceed after the failed presidential search: immediately start another presidential search, go another year with an interim president and restart the search in December, or offer Huckestein the permanent position.

Board members discussed the first two options but eventually decided against them.

After adjoining to a 40-minute executive session, the board reconvened, publicly discussed offering the position to Huckestein, and eventually unanimously made the offer.

Dodson said he was confident in the board’s decision.

“It started with the information I was receiving from college staff, faculty, students, and from the community,” he said. “That led to the immediate proposal tonight.

“That was one of the primary motivators for me. Her commitment, her transparency, her concern for students – I see her continuing that. I believe Julie will continue to hold students in the highest regard.

“That’s what our business is about: serving students.”

Huckestein said she was honored by the board’s decision.

“I knew the board was going to have a discussion tonight, but I didn’t know where they were going to land,” Huckestein said. “So I didn’t know what to expect coming into tonight.

“I knew there would be options, but I didn’t know what.”

Before the vote, board member Ken Hector explained his rational for supporting Huckestein for president.

“We’ve had the benefit of Julie’s tenure as interim president, which I say has been exemplary,” he said. “She meets all of the qualifications and requirements that were in the position, and she’s expressed an interest in being our president.”

After the vote, Hector thanked the audience, which packed the board room, for its patience and commitment to the college.

“I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the staff who are here tonight, not only for your interest in tonight’s proceedings but for sticking around,” he said. “I think that’s reflective of your deep commitment to Chemeketa.

“It’s a family that we have here, and I think our actions tonight have reinforced the family environment that’s so important here. Thank you for your dedication, your time, and your support.”

Huckestein said she wanted students to know that while her title may have changed, her commitment to students remained the same.

“I’m very proud to be the president of Chemeketa and to be able to represent a community college made up of faculty and staff who really do care about students and their success,” she said.

“We work hard to try and provide the type of environment where students want to be here at Chemeketa so they can work on their educational goals and have a great educational experience.

“That’s really what we want. We want people to have great experiences here.”

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