Mehdizadeh chosen, competition eliminated

College selects president after final forum vote


Cody Casares / The Advocate

(FILE PHOTO) President Mojdeh Mehdizadeh speaks to members of audience, answering questions about her platform during the presidential forum on March 3, 2016 in the Knox Center.

By Christian Urrutia, Editor-in-Chief

Stability has now been secured in Contra Costa College’s quest for permanent leadership.

According to last Friday’s district press release, the district has chosen Mojdeh Mehdizadeh as the 11th president of the college.

The Governing Board will vote to approve her selection at the March 23 meeting at the District Office in Martinez.

Chancellor Helen Benjamin said in the released statement, “Over the past 11 years, I have watched Mojdeh grow as a leader. This is a wonderful opportunity and a great fit for her leadership style and personality.  Both the college and the community it serves will benefit under her leadership.”

Mehdizadeh held the interim role since January 2015 when former president Denise Noldon left the position after her contract expired at the end of 2014.

Trustee Vicki Gordon said in the press release, “She has brought stability to the college during her time as interim president. Now she can continue her work in reestablishing CCC as our premier college in West County.”

Academic Senate President Beth Goehring said Mehdizadeh’s knowledge, experience and commitment to the college and community is what is needed. 

“With her vision, energy and leadership, she will lead us and our students to a successful future,” Goehring said.

Vice President Tammeil Gilkerson said, “The (district board) is making a great decision particularly after a period of instability and she has proven to be a great leader, a wonderful choice and I’m thrilled that she is being selected and I’m looking forward to her permanent leadership.”

The final decision has been met with much positivity throughout the campus.

Liberal Arts Division Dean Jason Berner said, “Excellent news to hear that she has taken over and I think there has been great improvement in (campus) morale.

“She is a great communicator and articulates her vision well.”

Berner added, “It comes down to her communication skills. She is very upfront and yet positive, has an optimistic outlook and a confidence that is picked up from around her and we look forward to continuing to work with her.”

Student perspective also casts Mehdizadeh in an endearing light.

“Ever since she has been interim president, she has been an advocate for the students,” ASU Vice President of Club Affairs Safi Ward-Davis said.

“For example she visited the ‘Dinner with Faculty’ event where not many students knew who she was, but was able to build rapport with students regardless and she is available for (the ASU) when advice is needed.”

Ward-Davis also said she feels better knowing Mehdizadeh is now permanent president, because after watching the video of the panel forums held March 3, Ward-Davis said Mehdizadeh, along with Luis Pedraja, were the two best equipped to answer specific campus questions out of the four finalists.

“She was able to pinpoint specific answers to questions and how it would be beneficial for students,” Ward-Davis said.

ASU President Nakari Syon said having a permanent president allows time to have goals implemented, setting the tone for longevity and stability for the college.

“Mojdeh is outstanding and personally I can go to her and address any concerns or any info of importance (within a reasonable timeframe),” Syon said.

Syon said a good relationship with the president is important and “is a key to many locks,” from a student government perspective.

Erin Brooks, district marketing and communications coordinator, said the chancellor kept updating the entire district internally via email until the formal announcement was made.

After the internal emails were sent, individuals from around the district sent Mehdizadeh congratulations and not from just CCC.

Mehdizadeh has 29 years of experience in higher education.  She was a student at Diablo Valley College, and then began her career at DVC in the area of student services and later institutional research. 

At the District Office, her responsibilities included support of student services, workforce and economic development, information technology, research and planning, and grants.