Editorial: President controversey could have been avoided

Las Positas College will soon have its third president in as many years.

This fact, coupled with the controversy surrounding the administration of current president Kevin Walthers, signals that something is wrong with the LPC-Chabot College district’s hiring process for this position.

The process begins with a nationwide search, with position openings posted in educational trade publications. The school utilizes a consultant firm to narrow the search once applications are received. The district sets criteria for the candidate.

The best candidates are then interviewed for two days by representatives from administration, faculty, classified staff, students, the surrounding community and Chabot College. The three or four best candidates are then chosen and take part in a public forum.

After this forum, the district chancellor then makes their recommendation which becomes the eventual president.

Somewhere between the initial phases of the search and the conclusion of it, two things happened.

First, a candidate was selected that was not the best fit for the school. The school was also not a good fit for the candidate themselves. It is important to note that we here at the Express harbor no ill will towards president Walthers.

California Community colleges have a culture of their own. The culture is particularly distinct at LPC with its strong emphasis on shared governance. Any culture shock experienced by an outside candidate is fully understandable.
The second thing that happened was that the perfect candidate for president of the school slipped through the fingers of the district.

Longtime administrator and one-time interim president Bob Kratochvil would have been an ideal choice to run the school. Having spent more than 10 years at LPC and being steeped in both how the school functions and its culture more than qualified Kratochvil for the position.
Kratochvil was also well-liked and respected by administration, faculty, staff and students during his time here.

Yet he was not hired, as the district’s Board of Trustees required that any candidate for school president must have completed their PhD. Kratochvil was in the process of doing so, but as he had not completed his doctorate he was not allowed to apply for the job.

This fact did not prevent him from becoming the president of a school, as he now serves in that capacity at Los Medanos College (LMC) in Pittsburg, Calif. By all accounts from the student press of LMC and articles published by other community colleges, Kratochvil has hit the ground running.

Soon, the district will have to begin the process of hiring yet another president.

The district should take a long look at the process they have used to select candidates and ask themselves if it is the best way forward towards guiding their decision.

They must also take care in asking themselves whether or not our next president will fit into the culture of our school, Las Positas College.

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