Monday, November 30 , 2015, 2:41 am | Fair 44º

Hancock College Names Finalists for President Job

By Gina Potthoff, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @ginapotthoff |

The search for Allan Hancock College’s next president has been narrowed to three finalists.

Making the final candidate cut are Luis Sanchez, Hancock’s vice president of academic affairs; Christopher Villa, Fresno City College vice president of student services; and Las Positas College President Kevin Walthers.

Hancock board chairman Larry Lahr announced the finalists in an email message to members of the college community this week.

The three finalists, who initially were interviewed by the presidential search committee last week, will appear during a candidate forum Thursday at the college’s Santa Maria campus. The forum is open to faculty and others in the college community, and is not for members of the public.

A search committee has been working since January to find a permanent replacement for José Ortiz, who left last June to head the Peralta Community College District in Oakland.

Betty Miller, former vice president and director of administrative services, has been serving as interim president until trustees can find a replacement to take over no later than July 1.

Although Miller initially applied for the permanent post, she subsequently removed herself from consideration for reasons a college spokeswoman wouldn’t provide.

Trustees are set to conduct final interviews Friday, with a likely appointment for the permanent job at a May 21 board meeting.

Search committee co-chair Margaret Tillery told Noozhawk that the committee interviewed nine candidates last Tuesday through Thursday. Although it was a nationwide search, all those interviewed were from California, she added.

“The committee was pleased with the quality and diversity of the pool and the level of knowledge and professionalism of the candidates,” said Tillery, who works in Hancock’s learning assistance program. “Given the strength of the pool, it was challenging to reach consensus on the three finalists. But, after lengthy discussion of each candidate’s strengths and areas of possible concern, the committee felt confident that we had identified the three candidates who are best prepared to lead the college.

“We look forward to the board of trustee’s final selection and to welcoming the next president of Allan Hancock College,” she concluded.

Sanchez was hired at Hancock College in 2011. He serves as the chief instructional officer of the college and has responsibility for all instruction, including credit, noncredit and community education programs. Prior to Hancock, Sanchez spent 20 years as a professor and dean at Sierra College in Rocklin, Calif.

Villa is in his fourth year at Fresno City College. According to the college’s website, he has more 30 years of experience in higher education, and close to 20 of those years have been in management positions.

Walthers has been president of Las Positas College since August 2011. He previously served as the vice chancellor for administration for the West Virginia Community and Technical College System and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, according to the Las Positas College website.

On Thursday, each candidate will be given 45 minutes to explain to the Hancock community why he should be chosen as president. Walthers will go first, followed by Sanchez and Villa.

“Each candidate will have an opportunity to individually provide brief opening remarks, respond to questions predetermined by the college community, and provide closing remarks,” Lahr wrote in the message to staff.

Those attending the forum will be able to provide feedback to the board of trustees via a brief online survey.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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