Firm picked to help find president

Firm picked to help find president

CHAMPAIGN – Parkland College board members have picked a North Carolina firm to help them find a new president for the college.

At a special meeting Thursday, the board selected Hockaday-Hunter and Associates of Broadway, N.C., to assist with a national search to replace President Zelema Harris, who will retire July 1, 2006.

"We're mirroring what we did when we picked Dr. Harris 15 years ago," said Jim Ayers, a board member who serves on the new search committee. "We hire a search firm, we'll develop a profile talking to our constituents about what characteristics the new president should have. We'll advertise and recruit and we'll identify semifinalists and finalists."

Ayers, a Monticello attorney, said Hockaday-Hunter helps community colleges nationwide find executives. Donny Hunter, Parkland's consultant, is a former teacher, principal, superintendent and executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges.

The board will pay Hunter about $20,000.

Board chairman Linden Warfel said this month or early next month the committee will schedule a "seeking" meeting, a three-in-one session with community representatives, then faculty and staff and finally with search committee members to talk about priorities for Parkland's next president.

He said community groups he'd like to see participate include the Urban League of Champaign County, the Ministerial Alliance of Champaign-Urbana, the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce, the University of Illinois as well as other organizations.

Board member Bonnie Kelley, who's also a member of the search panel, said a challenging job lies ahead. "We're functioning in a timely manner, but it's time to start rolling," she said.

"This process has been a concern of mine for about four years when I realized Dr. Harris might retire soon," Kelley said. "The college is in wonderful condition, and I'm worried about how we will find someone to take her place. Her nationwide reputation will make her hard to replace."

"The relationships she's developed as one of the leading community college presidents in the country, no one else has them," Warfel said. "We won't be able to match that."

Evert Levitt, head of the engineering science and technologies department and a faculty representative on the committee, also said committee members are ready to go to work.

Other administration members on the search committee include Linda Moore and Dorothy Voyles. Faculty representatives include Willie Fowler, Rochelle Harden, Paul Sarantakos and Jim Forman. Parkland student Jeff Rolfing and Parkland Foundation representative Donald Dodds serve on the committee, Mary Nicholas represents the support staff and Minor Jackson is equal opportunity representative, a nonvoting position.

Jackson is director of the Business Development Center.

Ayers said he expects a large applicant pool. He served on the committee that picked Harris, which received 84 applications and identified 29 other people recommended as possibilities.

Ayers said several of the state's 48 community colleges are looking for presidents, including Joliet Community College, Lake Land Community College at Mattoon, the College of Lake County at Grayslake, Lincoln Land Community College at Springfield, Illinois Valley Community College in Oglesby and Olive-Harvey College in Chicago.

Warfel said Harris leaves Parkland in an excellent position to move ahead with new leadership. "The processes we've been doing under her leadership, the things like the focus futures and strategic planning, have help us know who we are and who we'd like to come here to lead us in the future," he said.

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