Now Walthers is gone, sworn in recently as the new superintendent/president of Allan Hancock College in downstate Santa Maria, and Las Positas is again interviewing possible successors. Three candidates, all with doctorate degrees, will appear in a "President Candidate Forum" next Wednesday afternoon as part of a very public interview procedure that Las Positas champions -- a process that led to Walthers' selection but one that has left other education leaders questioning its effectiveness, calling it transparency run amok.
Candidates for the Las Positas president's job speak to invited faculty and students in a classroom auditorium for 45 minutes each, including a question and answer session. When they're finished, those in the audience are asked to fill out cards giving their opinions on each of the candidates. Of course, there are structured faculty and college board committees who first select finalists from a list of applicants, and the board of trustees makes the final decision.
But the process, as one candidate told me, can be somewhat intimidating and time-consuming. In several of the interviewing rounds, including the one Walthers was in, a candidate took another college president offer and another dropped out. Although most candidates advise their current college management team that they are interviewing at Las Positas, word spreads quickly on their campuses. In fact, news about Walthers' troubles first appeared in the Las Positas College Express, the campus newspaper, which spilled the beans with an editorial telling students that their college "will soon have its third president in as many years." Las Positas administrators, including Walthers, squirmed, but the paper had it right and Walthers is gone.
Coming up for a new round of these public presentations Wednesday are Barry Russell, from 2-2:45 p.m., Christopher Villa, from 3-3:45 p.m. and Pamela Walker, from 4-4:45 p.m. These finalists will appear on stage in the Barbara F. Mertes Center for the Arts, 300 Campus Hill Drive.
Barry Russell is vice chancellor of Academic Affairs in the California Community Colleges' chancellor's office in Sacramento. Appointed to the post by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009, his office provides leadership and technical assistance in the areas of academic planning, academic support programs, program approval, and the review of degrees and certificates.
Earlier, he held administrative positions at the College of the Siskiyous in Weed, Calif., Cerritos College in Norwalk, and Southwestern College in Chula Vista. Before that, he held positions at Central Texas Tech Prep Consortium, and Paris (Texas) Junior College.
He received his doctorate in Educational Administration from the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas at Austin and also holds a degree in music from Texas A&M University.
Christopher Villa is vice president of Student Services at Fresno City College. Earlier he held student services posts at Long Beach City College, California State University/Northridge and at College of the Canyons. He is a member of the California Community College Chancellor's Office advisory group on student mental health, and has served on several evaluation teams for the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.
He received a bachelor's degree in Social Ecology from UC Irvine, a Master's degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy from the University of Utah.
Pamela Walker currently serves as vice president of Student Services at American River College in Sacramento. She also was the dean of Physical Education and Athletics at Cerritos College, as well as serving as the college's dean of Admissions and Records. Earlier, she was associate director for the Commission on Athletics, overseeing all collegiate athletics at community colleges in the state.
She received her doctorate in Organization and Leadership from the University of San Francisco, and also holds a Master's degree in Education from Cal State University in Sacramento and a bachelor's in Physical Education from Eastern Oregon State College.