Faculty asked what they want in new leader

Faculty members expressed their sense of the success the college has had with choosing a leader from its own ranks, someone who shares their vision for the college. These thoughts were voiced in a Faculty Association meeting with two OCCC regents on campus Jan. 27.

Regents Jim White and Christie Burgin hosted a question-and-answer session during the meeting but also asked the faculty what characteristics they would like to see in a new president.

Both President Paul Sechrist and his predecessor, Robert P. Todd, were chosen during an internal search. Sechrist plans to step down July 1.

As Sechrist’s retirement draws near, the search for someone to fill his position is underway.

The Board of Regents has chosen the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) to guide the search for a replacement, White said.

Part of that search includes completing the profile for the job, which was the purpose of White and Burgin attending the January Faculty Association meeting.

Fabiola Janiak-Spens, biotechnology and chemistry professor, said the candidate should value OCCC’s small but unique skills-oriented programs.

Other faculty members said they would like a candidate who is familiar with those in the state Legislature, someone who is able to get the funds required for OCCC to do its job of providing students with an excellent education.

Tad Thurston, physics professor, said the college will need someone who can make hard decisions in tough financial times.

Both the professors and the regents commented on the dedication this college has to its students.

Other professors said they want someone with a quality that has defined Sechrist’s character: an attitude of service.

“Whoever is chosen should have a service mentality,” said Professor Kathy Wheat, Speech-Language Pathology Assistant program director.

It also would be beneficial if the candidate had a background in both business and education, particularly community college faculty experience, the professors said.

“We’d like someone who has walked in our own shoes, someone who has had full-time faculty experience,” computer science Professor Anita Philipp said.

While ACCT will assist in the process, the regents will make the final decision regarding the candidate, White said.

He spoke of the regents’ decision to look first for internal candidates.

“We’re looking on campus first,” White said. “That doesn’t mean that’s where we’ll finish, but that is where we are starting.”

As questions arose about the hiring process, Burgin explained how the faculty will have the chance to meet with candidates.

Faculty and students will be able to attend question-and-answer sessions with finalists, Burgin said.

When will the OCCC community get to meet the new leader? The regents plan to ease him or her into the position shortly before Sechrist retires in July.

“We’re hoping for a seamless transition — that would be best for us,” White said.

To contact Darla Kilhoffer, email onlineeditor@occc.edu

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