District holds meeting, selects chancellor

Governing Board trustees appoint community leader


Denis Perez / The Advocate

Contra Costa Community College District chancellor finalist, University of Minnesota Chancellor Fred Wood speaks to the crowd in Fireside Hall on Monday.

By Roxana Amparo, Editor-in-Chief

Current University of Minnesota-Crookston Chancellor Fred Wood has been named the new chancellor of the Contra Costa Community College District — which serves Contra Costa, Diablo Valley and Los Medanos colleges.

Dr. Wood’s appointment was announced at a special meeting of the district Governing Board meeting on Friday at the District Office in Martinez.

The other two finalists were Lake Tahoe Community College Superintendent Kindred Murillo and district Executive Vice Chancellor Eugene Huff.

“I do want to say we had three outstanding finalists,” Governing Board President Vicki Gordon said. “The qualities we looked at most in all of them was how student-focused and education-oriented that are. So it was really about finding the best match.”

Prior to the Governing Board’s selection on Friday, Dr. Wood served as the chancellor of the University of Minnesota-Crookston since 2012. He also served as vice chancellor for student affairs at UC Davis from 2007-12, and worked closely with students. Having received an associate degree from DVC and a bachelor’s from UC Davis, Wood finds himself close to home.   

District  Communications  and Community Relations Director Tim Leong said, “This is the first time in our district’s history that we have a chancellor that comes with background in the UC system.”

“His educational background impressed me,” Governing Board Trustee John Marquez said.

“It reminded me a lot of how I did it,” Marquez said. “That gave me focus. He said his father was a carpenter and mine was a painter. When a person goes the hard way to obtain an education — like he did and like how I did — with how much sacrifice he made and how much I sacrificed, I have no doubt he will be in a position to understand students who go through similar challenges.”

Leong said after district Chancellor Helen Benjamin announced her retirement at the beginning of the year, Governing Board trustees deliberated on how to move forward. The board began the hiring process during the summer and kept at it until Friday’s hiring.

They worked with the Association of Community Colleges Trustees (ACCT), a nonprofit educational organization of two-year college governing boards.

“(ACCT) is an umbrella organization of all community colleges that also worked on recruitment of CCC president (earlier this year),” he said.

Leong said the search committee decided on a timetable for hiring a chancellor last spring.

Out of seven original (final candidates) it selected the three for the Governing Board to interview as finalists. Those three — Wood, Murillo and Huff — also addressed college-wide forums at each of the three district colleges on Oct. 31.

Leong said a district-wide search committee of college constituency groups, students and community members was created to help throughout the process.

Once the search committee began to review applications, it interviewed seven of them, Leong said.

Out of those seven candidates, three were selected for the Governing Board to interview in a closed session.

Gordon said hiring interviews are all done in sessions closed to the public with certain formal guidelines. The final details of Wood’s contract are still being worked out.

“We are still negotiating his contract, so I can’t comment, but we are hoping (he starts at the district) in January,” she said. Dr. Benjamin’s last day is officially Dec. 31.

Marquez said he first met Wood during a private interview session at the District Office.

“Before I got to ask him a question, Benjamin brought up a question about when he would implement the EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) program. He answered when he gets the job. I look forward to him keeping his word,” Marquez said.

The program works to prohibit job discrimination in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.

He said the EEO is similar to affirmative action, a policy favoring those who have suffered from discrimination.

Marquez said the board tentatively approved the EEO program in September, but decided to hold it off implementing it until the next chancellor begins his term.

“It’s very important. It’s something that started from the grassroots — from Latinos in the community,” Marquez said.

“We had hoped that Dr. Benjamin would give us the opportunity to hire someone to implement it,” Marquez said.

“When you have something that comes from the heart, there is no doubt in my mind that he will put his focus on CCC, LMC and DVC students first.”

Leong said, “He is a DVC alumnus and he understands what his experiences mean to his career. He wants to carry that on in (current) students.”

Leong said Wood wants to meet with community leaders throughout the district. “The more I hear from him the more excited I am to welcome his leadership.

“Dr. Benjamin is leaving the district in really good condition. There is no need (for Wood) to rush into dramatic action on day one.”

Marquez said, “I am hoping the CCC family will embrace him with open arms, as part of the district. I hope they don’t make him feel like a foreigner coming to stay in the living room.”