HFCC presidential candidate search wraps up

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Although the first round of interviews for a new Henry Ford Community College president is over, HFCC Board of Trustees are still in the deliberation phase until this week, board President Pamela Adams said.

“We are hopeful that we will select one,” Adams said. “Several of them seem promising. It is going to be hard to choose one.”

Adams said she and the trustees plan to meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday at HFCC to possibly vote for a new president.

“We will have an open board meeting and that is when we will get the results of all the evaluations of the candidates,” she said. “We will have had time to look them over and then we will have a discussion about how we will narrow it down.”

In May, HFCC President Gail Mee announced during a board meeting that she will leave her position to pursue other opportunities.

Mee, who agreed to remain in her position until a new president is appointed, originally planned to leave Dec. 31, when her contract expired.

The board extended Mee’s contract and she will be paid until the end of her June 30 contract. Her current salary is $181,438; she will receive one year’s salary as a severance.

Mee joined HFCC as president in July 2006; she is the fourth president of the college and the first woman to serve in that role.

For the search, the trustees are working with Washington, D.C.-based executive search consulting firm R.H. Perry & Associates.

The six HFCC presidential finalists visited the campus during an open forum two weeks ago, at which point the trustees asked the candidates individually a series of 18 questions to screen their qualifications.

Reginald L. Gerlica, an HFCC instructor who served as vice president of Academic Affairs for Arts & Sciences from 2007 to 2012, was interviewed March 19; Valerie R. Roberson, vice president of Academic Affairs at Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Ill., was interviewed March 20; Wildolfo Arvelo, the president of Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth, N.H., was interviewed March 21; Ismael N. Ahmed, associate provost for Integrated Learning and Community Partnerships at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, was interviewed March 26; Gordon F. May, Oakland Community College Auburn Hills campus interim president, was interviewed March 27 and Stan Jensen, president and CEO of Colorado Mountain College, was interviewed Thursday.

Trustee Hussein Berry, who chaired the search committee composed of HFCC faculty, staff, community members, advisory committee members and three board trustees, said the board narrowed down the six candidates out of 54 local, regional and national applicants.

Berry credited the large number of applicants — originally presumed to be a pool of about 30 — to HFCC’s good name.

“(People) have a lot of respect for Henry Ford,” Berry said. “I have been very happy with the search. I think any one of the six candidates would do a fine job here.”

Trustees Pamela Adams and Roxanne McDonald are also a part of the search committee.

Berry said he and the trustees are looking for someone who can hit the ground running. He added that they also want input from faculty and community members about selecting the next president.

Adams said that the new president must have budgeting experience and someone who “understands what it takes for student success.”

“We want someone that is capable of handling the size budget that we have,” Adams said of HFCC’s $84 million annual budget. “Some (candidates) have the financial background, others have the academic background. If we could take all of those qualities and put it into one, we would be in good shape.”

Adams said the worst-case scenario – all six candidates falling through – would cause the board to start from scratch. But she said she feels hopeful about a number of the candidates.

Adams said she wants the next president to have a purpose and plan for HFCC.

“(We want) someone who has a vision (as to) where the college can go and would develop it and take it beyond where we are,” Adams said. “We would want somebody that is not going to be a short-termer and solve one problem that we have and then move on. We want someone that is going to stick around and have a good vision.”

The president is the chief executive officer of HFCC and reports directly to a seven-member elected board of trustees.

The presidential search committee began the review process Jan. 11.

(Sherri Kolade can be reached at skolade@bewickpublications.com.)