The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Of 5 interviewed, 4 contending for 2 president jobs

By Bethany Peterson/editor-in-chief

Five finalists for the SE and South campus president positions participated in two public forums as part of the interview process. Since then, one has dropped from the running.

Daniel Bain told The Collegian Nov. 7 he was dropping out to accept a position as president of Jefferson Davis Community College in Alabama.

“It’s a tough situation,” he told The Collegian. “I talked with a lot of students [at TCC] … you attend a wonderful institution.”

The forums were the latest step in the months-long process that has already gone back to the drawing board once when two previous groups of candidates were rejected.

The forums were on South Campus Oct. 31 and SE Campus Nov. 1. The candidates also had interviews with Chancellor Erma Johnson Hadley and the interview committee.

The four candidates are all being considered for both positions.

At the forums, the candidates answered multiple questions including giving examples of a problem they successfully dealt with, a decision they wish they could take back, innovative projects they were involved with, books that had inspired them and, on a lighter note, what superhero they would want to be.

Candidate William Coppola has spent his entire career working for community colleges starting at North Lake College in Irving. His current post is executive director of academic partnerships and initiatives at Lone Star College in Kingwood, Texas. He has also overseen his college’s progress through five years of the Achieving the Dream program TCC is two years into. At the SE Campus forum, he said campus diversity should be more than a statistic.

“It’s important diversity on campus is not just celebrated, but also accepted,” he said. “I think it’s important it is accepted in the classroom, it’s

accepted on campus and that it’s accepted in the curriculum.”

Evon Walters currently works for the largest community college in New York state, Suffolk County Community College, where he is executive dean of the East Campus.

Suffolk County Community College has three campuses and two extension sites, very similar to TCC, he said.

“I believe it is so important to have a clear sense in terms of how organizations function and what are the tenants and terms of helping them expand their capacity for transformation and change,” he said.

Fernando Figueroa taught English before becoming an administrator. He has been the provost at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi since 2009.

Figueroa told the South Campus forum attendees his philosophy on student success.

“We need to be more creative in our design of educational experiences that allow for our students to see that they have a place to put their thumbprint in what they’re learning, that it is personal,” he said.

Peter Jordan is vice president for student affairs at LaGuardia Community College in Queens, New York. He has been in education for 30 years, he said.

“I have spent my career focused on access issues, retention, persistence, student engagement and academic support,” he said.

SE student Cherrise Straty said Coppola and Bain seemed like the strongest candidates.

“Coppola seems like more of a people’s person. I got to talk to him in the end. He’s very friendly and easy to speak with. He also has a good sense of humor,” she said.

South associate professor of business accounting Robbie Sheffy said the forum wasn’t conclusive.

“You have to understand, this kind of thing is a dog-and-pony show,” she said. “You don’t know exactly what kind of people they are because this is the best foot forward, so you have to take everything with a grain of salt.”

Sheffy did say she liked Coppola the best, and her second choice was Jordan. She also thought Bain, who appeared to be the youngest, had some innovative ideas.

No students attended the forum on South, but Brian Johnson, assistant professor of government, said that was possibly because the meeting fell on Halloween.

“It’s always difficult to find the perfect time, but Halloween was probably not the best time,” he said.

The application process was set up so that each applicant was applying for both positions.

“It would save them from applying twice,” said Ricardo Coronado, associate vice chancellor of human resources.

It was also easier to sort through the 121 applications this way, he said, and prevented someone who was perfect for one campus from being turned away because he or she had applied only for the other campus.

A committee of campus administrators and faculty culled through the applications and selected a group of candidates for each campus who were interviewed in July. However, when Hadley reviewed the interview committees’ check sheets on those candidates, she was not satisfied with the results, said David Wells, vice chancellor of academic affairs, who has been overseeing the selection process.

“Her sense was that we should be able to find a stronger group of candidates,” he said. “The chancellor went through the applications, and I went through the applications separately, and we had about 25 apiece. Then we got together and agreed to reduce to five.”

This re-evaluation also broadened the pool of applicants, Wells said.

“Because we didn’t fill the positions, applications kept coming in,” he said. “The people selected for the interviews [on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1] were probably not in the pool when the interview committees reviewed earlier this summer.”

While the interview committee’s task is to give input on the candidates, the final decision is up to Hadley.

“In general, she is looking for a person who exhibits good leadership skills, passion for student success, who would work well with faculty and staff and the community and who would be a strong team member of her executive leadership team,” Wells said.

If the final selection is made before December, the new presidents could leave their current positions and begin their new responsibilities by January or February, Wells said.

Hadley hopes to make decisions soon.

“I’m expecting to make a decision by Nov. 19,” she said. “That is my goal. I hope I reach it.




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