The Gadsden State Presidential Search Committee, whose members were appointed by the chancellor of the state’s two-year college system and the Alabama Board of Education, will meet today to determine the five semi-finalists for the job.
More than 45 people from across the nation applied for the position before the committee whittled the choices down to 12 names.
“The process has gone very smoothly,” said committee chairman Marilyn Beck, who is also president of Calhoun Community College in Decatur.
The search has been on for a new president since President W. Darryl Harrison vacated the position in October 2010 for family reasons, said Kay Smith-Foster, public relations coordinator for Gadsden State.
The five applicants chosen today will be revealed April 13. The committee will personally interview each of the five on April 14 to choose the top three contenders. The community college system chancellor will then interview those three and make a recommendation on whom to hire during the April 28 meeting of the state Board of Education.
Among the 12 applicants still in contention are four Gadsden State employees, including Susan W. Brown, assistant to the dean of instructional services and division chair of mathematics and engineering; Martha G. Lavender, assistant to the president — Gadsden State Cherokee and Health Sciences; James R. Prucnal, dean of financial and administrative services; and Valerie A. Richardson, vice president for institutional advancement and student services.
Gadsden State serves Calhoun, Cherokee, Cleburne and Etowah counties and consists of four campuses and two centers. Its Ayers Campus, which has 18 buildings and the McClellan Center, which has one building, are in Calhoun County. Its other sites include the Wallace Drive Campus, the East Broad Campus, the Valley Street Campus and the Gadsden State Cherokee Center.
Smith-Foster said the college’s enrollment, now approximately 8,000, has grown steadily in the last few years.
“Enrollment has grown progressively in the last three years because of the economy,” she said. “When the economy is having a tough time, people stay closer to home or they are going back to re-train because they have lost their jobs.”
Beck said the committee’s hiring process is based on which applicants best meet a list of preferred characteristics and academic criteria.
“The process is very well-established by the Postsecondary Education Department and the state Department of Education,” Beck said. “We are following a very specific process.”
Among the characteristics applicants are preferred to have are the ability to build relationships, make decisions, be student-oriented and be committed long-term to the college.
Beck said the academic criteria includes the number of degrees an applicant has, his or her administration experience in senior-level administrative positions and a knowledge of Gadsden State’s role and mission.
“The very minimum qualifications an applicant must have are five years of senior-level full-time administrative experience, at least a master’s degree, and they must have a knowledge of the role of two-year colleges, particularly their role in economic and workforce development,” Beck said.
Star staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561.