District Board of Trustees Meets to Discuss Search for Valencia’s Next College President

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

“There are many jobs where the decision to retire is purely a personal decision. My decision to transfer leadership is a stewardship decision,” College President Sandy Shugart shared with the Valencia College District Board of Trustees during its workshop on Wednesday, September 9, 2020, held to launch the search for Valencia’s fifth college president.

Dr. Shugart explained that the time is right for him to retire as Valencia currently has a strong leadership team to provide continuity during the transition, and we have exceptional members on our board who will seek the best leader to continue to model Valencia’s core values. Additionally, with three campus president positions open, this transition would allow the new college president to fill those roles.

Based on his 20 years as college president, Dr. Shugart provided advice for the board on four areas of stewardship that he feels the next college president should have to be successful in the role:

1. Fiduciary Stewardship – The leader should have a solid financial acumen and be able to effectively navigate funding challenges within the College, the community and across the state and the nation. 

2. Stewardship for the Leadership Team – The individual must transition into our leadership team by trusting our existing senior leaders, deans and directors.

3. Stewardship of Mission – Valencia is first and foremost a learning-centered college. The president must be a learning leader who believes in the work of the faculty. We must be on a quest to find a leader with strong execution skills who can take Valencia College to the accomplishment of our strategic goals.

4. Stewardship of Culture – The individual must have belief in our culture — that Valencia is learning-centered and highly collaborative. 

The Three-phased Search Process

Vice President of Organizational Development and Human Resources Amy Bosley explained to the board that we will follow a three-phased search process that is expected to be completed by mid-December.  

Phase 1: Search Process Planning – In this first phase — the current part of the process — we are carefully and thoughtfully planning our search, so it will result in a positive candidate experience and a collaborative, transparent process for the Valencia community. Specifically, in the process planning phase, we have gathered feedback from faculty, staff and students on what experience, qualifications, skills and characteristics they seek in the College’s next president (results shared below).

Additionally, the College recommended to the board a Presidential Search Committee, a timeline, required qualifications and a search budget, as well as hiring a search firm to partner with us in finding the best qualified candidates. All recommendations were approved by the board. For details on these recommendations, click here.

In the board’s Wednesday, September 23, 2020 meeting, trustees will receive a draft Presidential Profile that outlines the role, responsibilities and desired qualifications, as well as a plan for how we will move from a large pool of candidates to the selected individual named by the trustees who will serve as the next president.

Phase 2: Active Recruitment – The beginning of active recruitment is signaled by the opening of the process for applicants and is scheduled for Thursday, September 24, 2020. During this phase, we will recruit a diverse pool of qualified candidates by sharing the opportunity widely through our established networks, advertising channels and through the selected search firm’s connections.

Phase 3: Discernment and Selection – In this final phase of the process, we will start with a large number of candidates and emerge at the end with a new leader. The Presidential Search Committee will serve the full board to develop a process for reviewing candidate materials, selecting among the qualified candidates the semi-finalists, developing an interview and engagement process so that the committee and the College can learn more about the candidates, and recommending to the trustees an unranked slate of finalists for consideration. This phase, like the first two, will be marked by collaboration, transparency and the opportunity to receive feedback from members of the College community who engage in the interview process, including through open town hall gatherings.

Equity-minded Hiring Practices

Following the search process discussion, Amy shared the equity-minded hiring practices with the board that will be in place including: establishing a diverse Presidential Search Committee; selecting a search firm with diverse networks and staff; advertising and recruiting through diverse sources and networks; examining (as a search committee) traditional notions of merit and fit; checking unconscious bias in the review of candidate materials; conducting a “talent search” process, not a “screening out” process; reviewing materials, candidate interviews and feedback with the established profile as the guide; comparing each candidate to the position profile and not to one another; challenge biased assumptions, beliefs and statements in committee deliberations; and ensuring a consistent and equitable application process for all candidates.

Employee and Student Feedback 

Additionally, Amy shared the feedback gathered from faculty, staff and students on the experience, qualifications, skills and characteristics they seek in the College’s next president. There were more than 100 responses to the employee survey, and 45 students took part in the listening sessions hosted by Student Development. Key themes from that feedback included learning, leadership, equity, sustainability, funding and technology. From the feedback, the following qualifications were garnered.

Our next president should:

  • Have a passion for our students, their learning and their success;
  • Possess educational credentials appropriate for an academic leader including an earned doctorate;
  • Have at least 10 years of experience in higher education senior leadership, preferably at a community college or open-access institution;
  • Demonstrate a commitment to action related to equity and sustainability;
  • Be an innovator and have leadership experience in a collaborative culture; and
  • Engage the community in which they serve.

The feedback also revealed that the most urgent issues facing our next college president include re-imagining higher education post COVID-19; developing and nurturing equity-minded faculty and staff to create an equitable organization for employees and students; and filling critical leadership vacancies.

Of the qualifications shared above, two were specifically presented to the District Board of Trustees for their approval. The first was that qualified candidates must have an earned doctorate, and the second was that they possess at least 10 years of experience in higher education, preferably at a community college or open-access institution. The board approved the Presidential Search Committee to include these qualifications in the Presidential Profile.

Legal Briefing

Vice President of Policy and General Counsel Bill Mullowney shared a legal briefing about the search process including board authority, government in the Sunshine Law, Florida Open Records Law and presidential contract matters.

To view the full board presentation, click here. To read additional information about the meeting, view the Valencia College Presidential Search Update.

For details on the search process, the search committee, meeting schedule and, as they apply — the candidates — view the Valencia College Presidential Search webpage at valenciacollege.edu/presidential-search/.

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