Leadership search continues

Lengthy search turns up options, no perfect match

By Christian Urrutia, Editor-in-Chief

After selecting three finalists for college president in May, Chancellor Helen Benjamin decided not to choose any of the candidates and instead is offering Mojdeh Mehdizadeh to stay in her role as interim president.

Mehdizadeh has held the interim role at Contra Costa College since Jan. 16 and has renewed her contract through June 2016, or until a permanent president is selected.

Dr. Benjamin’s final decision to forgo hiring a presidential candidate was made after several forums were held featuring each finalist on May 20 in the Knox Center, intended for faculty and classified staff.   

According to an email sent districtwide by Benjamin on May 29, “The process for the hiring of the president of the college has been completed. After thinking more about the current state of the college, I decided, in consultation with the Governing Board, to forgo the hiring of a permanent president at this time.

“Mehdizadeh has agreed to continue as the interim president for 2015-16, and we will begin the recruitment process for a permanent president selected by March 15, 2016.”

Benjamin continued to note that she was thankful to many of the attendees that participated in the forums in person or electronically and provided feedback.

Comment cards were issued during the forums, but the type of feedback was provided from them, Benjamin declined to say.

“I met with the (screening) committee to let them know what my decision was, but I said all I can say in the (email),” Benjamin said.

She went on to thank selection members of that same committee for their service in the email release.

Benjamin declined to state the details of the consultation between the Governing Board and her.

Mehdizadeh said Benjamin chose to keep her in CCC’s top role for continuity.

During such a time of change on campus, Benjamin thought it would make sense for Mehdizadeh to remain in place since she has been occupying the role for the last six months, Mehdizadeh said.

She said, “(Chancellor Benjamin) asked if I could continue as the interim president and I happily accepted. I have a real passion to continue in the role, to make a real difference for the community and to do everything I can do to fill the gap for the institution.”

The hiring process for contract administrators, or positions at the level of chancellor, president or administrators under contract, consists of several procedures.

It starts with an announcement made by the chancellor at a regular Governing Board meeting. Then a position profile detailing duties and qualifications is developed, according to district Human Resources Procedure 1010.06.

This is followed by the formation of a screening and interview committee at the college performing the search.

Representatives from college management, United Faculty, Academic Senate, Classified Senate, the Associated Student Union president, community representatives selected by the Governing Board and a representative from the College Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Committee form this screening committee for presidential candidates.

Potential applicants undergo paper screening, interviews and performance tests. Final candidates each go through final interviews.

Benjamin said, “I’m working on the (search) schedule and the first thing I have to do is make an announcement in the Governing Board meeting, and I don’t know whether I will do it at this one (Sept. 9) or the next.”