The search begins:
Chemeketa board green-lights timeline for presidential transition
By Matthew Skog – Photos by Brad Bakke
In a special meeting on April 29, members of the Chemeketa Board of Education unanimously voted to begin the search for a successor to president Cheryl Roberts.
Roberts, who announced in late April that she had accepted an offer to become president of Seattle’s Shoreline Community College, told the board that her final day as president of Chemeketa would be June 30.
Board members acknowledged Roberts’ decision and turned their attention to the selection of an interim president to run the college for a year while a national search could be conducted.
“We have two choices in terms of looking for an interim president,” Ed Dodson, the board’s chairman, said. “We can look internally, as we have in the past, or we could look to the outside.”
Members agreed that selecting an interim internal would be the best approach.
“I think it would be wiser to have someone from within our organization who’s familiar with everything than trying to bring someone else in and then try to bring them up to speed,” Ron Pittman said.
Board member Ken Hector agreed.
“You’d have a very hard time convincing me that we don’t have the type of people within our organization that could assume that position, and do a very competent job of it,” he said.
“We’re looking at almost a year between now and when we have a new president on board. That’s a long time. We need somebody who can be a skipper in a storm and really keep us on course.”
After discussing qualifications that the interim candidates must have, the board voted unanimously to begin the search for candidates for the interim presidency.
Members of the board agreed that candidates for the position must be current Chemeketa employees and also would not be candidates for the permanent position of college president.
Candidates also must have extensive experience and knowledge of Chemeketa operations.
Board members will vote on interim presidential nominees at the next board meeting, which is scheduled for May 21.
The interim president will take over leadership of Chemeketa on July 1 and hold the position until a permanent president is hired.
A preliminary presidential search timeline also was approved.
A preliminary timeline was laid out in detail in a press release that followed the meeting. It read, in part:
“Chemeketa anticipates conducting college and community forums in October and opening the position in early November. A search committee will be formed in November comprised of board members, faculty, staff, students, and community representatives.
“The search committee will begin screening candidates in January 2015. The board will interview finalists in February and hopes to announce Chemeketa’s next president in March or April of next year.”
Dodson said he believed that the transition and selection processes would go as smoothly as the last two.
“I’m very optimistic because I’ve participated in the last two,” he said. “We selected an excellent president in Gretchen Schuette, and we selected an excellent president in Cheryl. When you’re two for two, it’s hard to argue with that process.
“Both of those processes included students, staff, and community members on the interview committee, so it’s not just seven board members making the choices.”
Dodson said that students would likely be an integral part of the selection process.
“Students have been part of the interview team in the past,” he said. “It’s happened both times in the past, and I can’t imagine not doing it again.
“I believe the very best service you can give is when it’s open, transparent, and involves the people who need to be involved.”