Presidential search process gains traction

Discussions for hiring the next college president gained traction this week.

“This is an exciting process,” MCCC Board Chairman Bill Bacarella said at the beginning of a special board meeting Monday, Feb. 18.

The Board of Trustees, which met to begin planning the hiring process, heard from faculty, staff and administrators at the beginning of the meeting.

The board decided to accept an offer from an executive search firm to do a two- hour video conference on best practices for selecting college presidents. 

The session will be led by Narcisa Polonio, a vice president with the Association of Community College Trustees. ACCT is the same firm the college used 10 years ago to help with the search for President David Nixon, who announced his resignation in November, effective July 31.

“It’s kind of a teaser. She’s probably hopeful we’ll use her firm,” said Bill Braunlich, vice chairman of the board.

Board members emphasized they haven’t decided whether the college should hire a search firm.

“I think there are high-quality experts. It costs money for a bad result, so we need to go in with eyes open. Is the search firm a panacea? No,” Braunlich said.

Board member Joe Bellino said he thought the college wasted $70,000 in using a search firm in the last presidential search.

Members of faculty and staff were encouraged to provide their input into the selection process.

“I think it’s really important everyone takes part,” board member and former history professor James Devries said.

“I think the next president should be a great communicator and listener,” said Bryan Rorke, who spoke representing MCCC maintenance workers.

Rorke added that he would like a president who is sympathetic, a good mentor, and a good steward of college resources.

“With all the qualities you are looking for in a president – we are too,” Bacarella said, affirming Rorke’s comments. 

The question of who will comprise the search committee has yet to be determined. The Faculty and Administration councils both met this week to discuss representation on the search committee.

They will make their recommendations to the board at another special meeting at 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25, which also will include the 2-hour video conference.

So far, a list of internal and external stakeholders who might be committee members has been compiled, Bacarella said, but no decisions have been made.

Suggestions for membership on the search committee included representatives from faculty, staff and administration at MCCC, as well as community members. The final decision will be made by the seven members of the board, Bacarella said.

Braunlich said the future college president needs to thrive both in and out of the college’s environment.

If the president is successful internally but fails externally, the president has failed, he said.

“Ultimately, we want someone who’s going to succeed in both venues,” he said.