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Board chooses new firm in presidential search

Palomar College’s Governing Board unanimously voted to choose from one of two firms to aid campus officials in the search for a new president / superintendent on Feb. 23.

The Board decided to go with The Association of Community College Trustees. The ACCT is a nonprofit group of governing boards. The ACCT also provides presidential and CEO search services to its members, according to the group’s website.

Of the two firms interviewed at the Board meeting, Board member Nancy Chadwick, viewed ACCT as “better informed and better planned” than the Education Leadership Search group, the other hiring firm interviewed.

ACCT’s ability to draw a larger pool of candidates was also high among the Board’s decision.

Chadwick said that the board wants the hiring firm to be able to “get a big net out there and bring us a lot of candidates.”

“We want a strong pool and a pool that’s diverse,” she added.

The Board was originally torn between the two search firms, and expressed what they liked and disliked about each firm.

“I would be comfortable with either company, [but] I’m leaning toward ELS,” Trustee John Halcon said.

Other Board members praised ELS for its candor when discussing the problems with Palomar’s accelerated search timeline.

“We’ll support you in what you need to do, but what you need to understand that this is an accelerated framework,” Dr. Ned Doffoney, the consulting agent for ESL, said.

He added that this accelerated timeline would be challenging.

The Board concluded that ELS would be able to draw from a big enough pool to really conduct a national search. Mark Evilsizer, Board president, likened the group to a boutique shop with a local touch.

But the Board also had qualms with the fact that they did not seem as prepared for the interview as ACCT.

Trustee Paul McNamara also brought up the fact that ESL, being a smaller and fairly local organization, would likely bring in a similar pool of candidates that the last hiring firm did.

The Board also had other observations about both firms.

Adrian Gonzales, Palomar’s interim president, expressed surprise that neither organization spoke about the fact that Palomar had just come out of a failed search.

The Board asked the audience in attendance to tell them their “gut reactions” to both firms. Shannon Lienhart, a member of Palomar’s Faculty Federation, was in attendance.

“ACCT definitely did their reading. I would expect anyone in education to have done their homework,” Shannon Lienhart said.


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