By Rodolfo Trujillo
A focus group to express concerns for the next ELAC president will be taking place today, although there are not a whole lot of students who may know that it is happening. A set of focus groups were also held on Friday for faculty, students, administrative, supervisory and classified staff, as well as community members.
All of them had the opportunity to voice their opinion for what characteristics they believe the next president should have. There were less than 15 students in attendance. Those that did attend included ASU President James Garcia and members of the club Veterans of ELAC.
The committee that will choose the next president has yet to be determined, but it will most likely include Garcia, since he was recommended by the college, said Perrin Reid, executive assistant to District chancellor Daniel LaVista. “I spoke to (interim ELAC president) Tyree Wieder about generating notification of the focus groups,” said Reid.
“One of the reasons we want to hold focus groups is to solicit input of what the college community believes are ideal characteristics,” said Reid. According to a memo sent by LaVista, the focus groups are the first step in determining what qualifications the district will ask of the candidates. Students mentioned various characteristics that they would want in a president, including approachability, experience with the East L.A. community and fighting for the rights of students.
Members of the college administration and supervisory staff had more direct concerns with how the college could raise the money it needs in a time of budget cuts. Several people mentioned needing someone that was sensitive to the diverse student population and some of the tensions that they said exist as a result of the differences in student’s backgrounds. One person said that the international student program brings a significant amount of money to the college while other students may be benefiting from students their money. One person said that the new president should be aware of the academic as well as the vocational role of the college.
The meeting was sponsored by the Human Resources Division of the District and organized by Edward Hernandez and James Walker, consultants with Community College Search Services (CCSS), a California-based consulting service in the business of assisting community colleges with searching for executives. Shawn Tramel, assistant administrative analyst of human resources was surprised that students were not better notified about the meeting by the college.
Tramel will speak to the office of the president to improve communication about future meetings. CCSS will be searching the nation for candidates to that position.
The idea behind separating the parties involved into various groups was that it gave each of the groups the opportunity to express its specific needs and what they want in a president. “We do not do the hiring, we do the search. We are doing focus groups at the request of the chancellor,” Walker said. He said that CCSS will use the information gathered at the focus groups to help the District make a brochure to advertise the position.
Walker explained how CCSS will conduct the search. “We will send recruitment letters to a pool of candidates that we have in our database, make calls and help the district compose recruiting information to send throughout the country. We will work with the search committee to develop interview questions and assist in reference checks of the finalists,” Walker said.
Walker said to the administration group that CCSS is very thorough in their background checks. He said that he will call all the schools that the candidates worked at, even if they do not mention them on their resume. A criminal background check as well as an Internet background check on social networks will also be completed.
Walker said that candidates will have the opportunity to explain any concerns that are found. There will be a focus group meeting today for anyone (student, faculty and staff) who missed the previous meeting. It will take place from 12 to 1:30 p.m. in room G1-301.