Deadline looms in search for college president

By Robert Clinton, Opinion Editor

The search to find the next president of Contra Costa College officially began on March 22 as the Contra Costa Community College District posted the open position and began accepting applications to fill the post.

The exploratory process began roughly one month after district Chancellor Fred Wood announced the reassignment of former Contra Costa College president Mojdeh Mehdizadeh to her previous position at the District Office Feb. 15.

“Everything is proceeding as it should be,” Wood said. “We are in the process of receiving applications and we feel good about what we are seeing.”

During the search, CCC will be under the charge of Interim President Chui L. Tsang who will serve in the position until the selection process is completed.

The hiring process will happen in three stages following the May 4 deadline for application submittals.

First, a screening committee will evaluate applications and choose a group of finalists to be interviewed May 21-24.

The Chancellor will then use the finalists resumes and interview notes from committee members to make reference checks and ultimately the decision to hire or not.

The timeline details the process, complete with a new president beginning transition procedure at CCC, to be concluded by July 1.

During the finalist stage, candidates will meet with students and faculty on campus to field questions and get to know their potential constituency.

“It’s important to take the time to come and meet every candidate and provide your input,” Wood said. “I’ll work as hard as I can to make sure that students know about these events.”

In an attempt to attract the best possible candidates, the district has enlisted the services of the educational consulting firm PPL Incorporated.

On its website, the firm describes itself as a full-service educational consulting firm that has been serving community colleges since 1978.

It also boasts a rich history of service with California community colleges.

In an introductory meeting, Wood invited PPL Vice President and Secretary Robert Griffin to Fireside Hall where the duo took questions about the feelings of uncertainty on campus since the reassignment of president Mojdeh Mehdizadeh last month.

At the time of the meeting, members of the search committee had not been made public.

Many who attended the meeting expressed concerns that administrative transparency, which has been hazy in recent months, should continue to be at the forefront of this process.

“There are a lot of concerns among staff and faculty surrounding transparency so this would lend to us continuing those feelings,” Welcome Center program assistant Marykate Rossi said during the forum. “Who’s being selected among us to represent us.”

Wood said he wants to maintain a level of confidentiality during the early stages of the process to prevent any inappropriate communication between applicants and committee members.

Griffin, the district’s hired consultant, also believes in maintaining a diminished level of transparency through some stages of the process.

“I think it’s best for all involved if the names are not publicized,” Griffin said. “Some applicants feel the need to contact committee members. We are trying to protect this process so we don’t find that its been wasted in any kind of way.

“We don’t want to have to shut it down and start over,” he said.

During the forum, Wood took suggestions from attendees about what qualifications are needed to be a successful college president at CCC and said he would incorporate them into the district’s public job listing.

The district’s website,, lists the desired qualifications applicants should meet and explains what the position duties entail.

It also describes the qualities and characteristics that it hopes applicants for the open position possess.

On the website it states CCC seeks an experienced, collaborative and visionary leader with a high level of energy. The position requires someone who is ethical, honest and trustworthy who will compassionately guide the college toward excellent programs and services that meet the needs of the community and ensure the success of its diverse student body.

It also notes that the college seeks candidates who embrace the community, the student population and its central work to strengthen West County by meeting the students where they are and helping them get to where they want to be.

Sharing in the responsibility to ensure students are a part of the selection process, ASU President Alex Walker-Griffin plans to send notifications reminding the campus community of public forum dates and times.

“I’m not sure when I would be able to (notify students). I have to find out when the forums are first,” Walker-Griffin said. “I was thinking of using Joel’s (Student Life Coordinator Joel Nickelson-Shanks) listserv (a system to send campuswide communications) to send a mass email to all of the students.”

The Advocate will also post forum dates on its social media platforms.