Las Positas College got its first in-depth look at its next president.
On Oct. 2, the three candidates for the vacant position spoke at the open presidential forums,
sharing their experiences and visions with members of the LPC community. District Chancellor
Jannett Jackson, board member Carlo Vecchiarelli and current Interim President Janice
Noble were among several prominent members in attendance.
Vice Chancellor of Human Resources for the district Wyman Fong moderated the discussion with several questions and the audience was allowed to query the candidates. Surveys to be submitted to the district office were handed out to the attendees.
At the completion of the process, a recommendation will be made by Chancellor Jackson to the
Board of Trustees on the Oct. 15 meeting, and a new president is expected to be chosen soon
“I think whoever is selected, I think that they will be welcomed into the Las Positas family,” Jackson said in a previous phone interview with The Express.
The forum began with Dr. Barry Russell, who is currently Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs for the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. He holds a doctorate in Educational Administration from the University of Texas at Austin, along with degrees in music from Texas A&M University — Commerce.
“All of that being in different positions I think has really built my skill level of becoming president at Las Positas. I have a lot of background in many different areas,” Russell said in the beginning of his speech.
Several points were made in his answers to the questions that hinted at his plans for LPC’s future.
On several occasions, he mentioned joining with other colleges to sustain necessary programs
and services on campus for students, such as the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Center.
He also suggested really focusing on making the accreditation process a group effort.
In conclusion, he stated that he “feels comfortable” and “at home” at LPC.
“I think this a great time for the state of California, a great time for us to move in new directions. My goal as president would be to lead the campus in a process of continuous learning about who we are and where we need to go, and then building the structure so that we get there,” Russell said.
Christopher Villa, currently the vice president of student services at Fresno City College,
emphasized his “contemporary perspective.” He has served as a Board Member for the
California Community College Chief Student Services Administration Association. He
received his doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy from the University of Utah.
But he is uniquely qualified, he said, for a different reason.
“I really have a perspective, not just from an administrative standpoint, but as a parent, a contemporary perspective of what it’s like to have a community college student in the home,” Villa said. “I’m particularly interested in becoming president for a number of reasons. You have a lot of great things happening here at Las Positas.”
Villa stressed the point of focusing on outcomes and studying the patterns that were followed to create those outcomes. Whether it be expanding career technical education (CTE) programs or focusing on processes of the bargaining unit at the district office, Villa emphasized that dynamics must be studied for optimal outcomes to be achieved.
“I truly am seriously interested in being your school president. You have a great college, as I mentioned earlier. I sense that faculty and staff really believe in this college and really value it, and I want to be part of this,” Villa said in conclusion.
The final candidate to step into the hot seat was Dr. Pamela Walker, who currently serves as the Vice President of Student Services at American River College in Sacramento. She has served on the boards of the California Community College Athletic Association, the Chief Student Services Officers and the American River College Foundation. She holds a doctorate in Organization and Leadership from the University of San Francisco.
“I’d be honored to serve students (here) as much as I could,” Walker said.
Walker’s platform focused on ensuring that everything is about the students, and on finding solutions. Despite challenges posed by limited resources and lack of finances, Walker hopes to continue moving forward innovatively with the jointed efforts of every person on board at LPC.
“I think the most important part of serving at the highest level is if you need to find someone here who can fit with you, it’s not just ‘what I’ve done or who I am or why I am,’ it’s ‘do they fit with the work that you have?’ If you look at my history and work experiences, I think that it’s important that you know that I fit into the fabric of your organization and help you get better,” Walker said.
LPC’s future lies in the hands of one of these three candidates. On Oct. 15, the wait will be over, and come January, LPC will finally have a permanent president.