New Chancellor Around the Corner

The finalists have been named but they still have a long way to go in the search process.

Jasmine Osuna, Staff Writer

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Dr. Cindy Miles, the current chancellor at the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, has announced retirement. The search has been underway to find her replacement. The new chancellor appointed by the Governing Board of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca District will start January 1 2020.

Linda Cartwright, the President of the governing board, likened the chancellor to a manager of a business. The chancellor is appointed by the board and is “responsible for the quality and effectiveness of all the programs the chancellor provides leadership to the vice chancellors, the president, the deans, faculty and staff.” Under the direction of the chancellor academic policy, planning and business affairs, faculty, student and staff affairs are managed. The chancellor also stays in contact with legislators to help educational bills that may be considered. “They set the overall policy of the district right so whatever the chancellors priorities are those are the marching orders she gives out to the president and vice chancellors to carry out” said Jim Mahler, president of the American Federation of Teachers Local 1931.

The chancellor is in charge of both colleges. While Grossmont’s president, Dr. Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh, handles Grossmont’s affairs, the Chancellor works for the entire district including Grossmont and Cuyamaca.

Chancellor’s terms vary based on their contract. Often the terms the chancellor and board will agree upon will be 3 years, but it can be as little as a 1 year term. “She’s evaluated every year,” said Cartwright, “If we have to make adjustments in that term for whatever reason the board has the option to do that. 

The chancellor meets with the Grossmont-Cuyumaca Governing Board on a regular basis. “Before a board meeting we talk to her about you know the issues that are going to be addressed. If we have things that we want put on the agenda we let know know about that.” said Cartwright. After this discussion the board enters open session where the public is invited. Any personal issues or other matters that need to be discussed in private are handled in closed session. In these sessions the board and the chancellor, “come to a consensus,” said Cartwright. 

The district is currently in the process of hiring a new chancellor. A search committee is  “made up of stakeholders” said Cartwright. These people come from the district, community, and in the case of one from the student body. This committee put together a profile of what was desirable in a candidate. They then did a paper screening in which the candidates were rated based on their applications. Semi-finalist, Dr. Lynn Neault and Dr. David Potash, were then interviewed.

Dr. Lynn Neault is currently the Vice Chancellor of Student Services for the San Diego Community College District. She has held that position for 25 years. On November 4 she spoke at an open forum at Grossmont. “I am our students. I am an immigrant, the daughter of immigrants, and the granddaughter of immigrants.” said Neault. “My parents moved to this country and we struggled to make ends meet. I was the first in my family to go to college.” During the forum she spoke often of students. “Our students come to us with barriers, many of which are unfathomable to us, but through it all we give them hope, hope for a better life.” said Neault. “I am the voice for the students who don’t have a voice.” When a student asks for an exception in district policy, whether it be due to a teacher getting sick or books being unavailable, Neault allows for that exception for the entire class, “Why just the student that has the courage and the wherewithal to come forward and ask for an exception in policy.” said Neault. When students are constantly receiving exemptions for degree requirements she will recommend to the instructional leadership an analyzation of the requirements so all students may benefit from these exceptions.

In her current position she worked to create a dream center and a Catalyst Grant. This grant helped expand the dreamer centers at City College and Mesa College, and allowed for one to be created at Miramar College. “The national rhetoric” said Neault, “has really frightened a lot of our students so all the more reason that we need to reach out to them with good information.”

Neault spoke to her good relations with the labor union on her campus, the same union and local that represents faculty in this district. “And that’s not because we always agree, but because I’m always willing to listen and they’re willing to listen and I always try to find common ground, to find areas of compromise.”

When asked how she would handle a situation like the misreporting of the FON report Neault said, “I am a big proponent of accountability and I will ensure to the best of my abilities that we are accountable to state regulations and to our creditors.”

Dr. David Potash has been the president of Wilbur Wright College since 2013. On November 5 he spoke at his own open forum. “We represent in many ways what I think is the kind of opportunity of a better sort of place, for our communities, and also in bigger picture for our country,” said Potash. “This is really where I few as my home.”

 “Nothing of lasting value in higher ed is ever done alone,” said Potash. “There’s little decision making that I can think of… that doesn’t involve participatory governance.” He continued to explain he has college wide retreats. “We make sure everyone is at the retreat and everyone is participating. That’s faculty, that’s administrators, that’s students, that’s the housekeeping, that’s security, all the rest. Does that mean that everybody has to spend the same amount of time? No, and there’s certain groups that has significant more attention to particular task and that but everybody comes together.  And that’s one of the things that I really like and really care about in terms of higher education.” Potash said.

Potash made note of his work to obtain a grant to, “provide direct support for undocumentmented students, we start training faculty and staff” said potash. “I think we have done, in spite of all the outside challenges, a reasonably good, not enough, but reasonably good job providing a safe environment for our undocumented student.”

“Governance isn’t something that you kinda solve its about practice it’s about ongoing conversations and about keeping people together,” said Potash. “I also believe in organized labor. And part of the reasons for that , just as a straight head, up I taught American history. You can not study American history, you can not teach a class without really getting a full understanding to, we need organized labor in this country, we probably need it even more so now than we have in a long time.”

When asked how he would handle a situation like the misreporting of a FON report Potash said, “Well I couldn’t comment on an HR issue in the absence, I don’t think that’s really fair.”

Cartwright said she hopes the next chancellor will “continue to put students first.” She continued, “somebody that’s going to work with everyone: students, faculty, staff, the community.” When asked what he hopes for in the next chancellor Mahler said, “Someone who understands how to actually collaborate with constituency groups.”

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