By Brandon Martin
Glenn DuBois, chancellor of the Virginia Community College System, joined the Patrick Henry Community College Board during a March 15 meeting to discuss the next steps in finding the school’s new president after the announcement of Dr. Angeline Godwin’s retirement earlier in the year.
“I can certainly say that we can’t replace Angeline, but we can certainly find somebody worthy to succeed her,” DuBois said.
Godwin is slated to depart the post in June, but DuBois expressed doubts that the position will be filled at that time.
“We will not have this job done by June. That’s when Angeline is leaving,” DuBois said. “I’m confident we will have somebody on board, or named, by early summer and probably on board by September. In that very short period, I will have to appoint an interim president.”
DuBois said the first step in the process involved surveying the PHCC community.
“Asking the college community to articulate the priorities that they see moving forward, in the next 3-5 years,” DuBois said. “What are the initiatives that we have in place or that we are working on that we must maintain or continue? The reason that we do this upfront is we want to try and get it down to those priorities and find the right leader out there that has the skill set to help us achieve those articulated priorities.”
After completing the survey, the results were used to form a national advertisement for the position, according to DuBois. The position is currently posted on the Virginia Community Colleges website with a salary range of $144,449 – $177,704.
Among the priorities listed for the position are “prioritizing teaching, learning and student success at the forefront, and identifying and focusing on the needs of the local K-12 schools in the area and providing opportunities for partnerships. In addition, the next president will identify opportunities outside of traditional sources of tuition, fees, and state and local support to meet the needs of PHCC students and advance its mission and build upon the college’s legacy of success in assisting the community to overcome economic downsizing and recovery. Lastly, the president will foster relationships with the area organizations to continue to provide free college access to local students.”
DuBois said the Commonwealth is seen as “a very desirable state for community college executives” which generates a large volume of applicants.
While applications are still being accepted, Dubois said a search committee will be formed to narrow down candidates. Dr. Tommy Wright, president of Southwest Virginia Community College, will serve as chairman of the committee, and Marcia Conston, president of Tidewater Community College, will serve as vice-chairman. Additionally, three members of the PHCC board will serve on the committee, along with seven other individuals from member colleges of VCCS.
The three PHCC board members chosen to participate in the search are Janet Copenhaver, chairman; Wayne Moore and Barry Helmstutler.
“It is this committee that I will look to, to help try to help get down to a smaller group,” DuBois said. “We will probably generate north of 70 applications. The committee members will look at each application and try to decide, really on the basis of written work submitted, on who they would like to bring in for a confidential, round one interview.”
While there is no set number of applicants invited for the first round of interviews, DuBois said the number is usually 10 to 12 applicants.
To help gauge competence in a few areas, DuBois said he likes to have the committee give the applicants “a little homework upfront” such as giving a presentation “on something that is important in our business.”
DuBois said applicants will each interview separately with the search committee and then with himself and his staff.
“From there, our work is not done. We really want to get it down to a slate of finalists,” DuBois said. “We will come to a consensus on who we would like to pursue. In the pursuit of finalists, we hire a firm to really dig deep and vet each of these candidates.”
According to DuBois, approximately 95 percent of the applicants make it through the vetting process.
“We usually are very successful in getting a slate of finalists to the college campus,” DuBois said. “Usually, it’s three people. Sometimes it’s four. It has been two, but it’s never just been one. I want to give the college an opportunity to participate in the final choice.”
Each finalist and their families will have an opportunity to visit the PHCC campus during this period. DuBois said his staff also takes time to recruit the spouses or significant others of applicants.
“We find out something about him or her and we put together a program of interest,” DuBois said. “I think Angeline can tell you that her husband was interested in golf and car racing. While we were running her through the gauntlet of interviews, I think we showed off a golf course and maybe put him in a racing car.”
After each candidate has an opportunity to meet with the local community, DuBois said he will meet with the PHCC board in closed session to solicit input on each of the applicants.
“Then I would make a decision on a contract offer,” DuBois said.
While not the first priority of VCCS, DuBois said the system is “working hard to diversify our leadership ranks.”
He added, “I think we have done a good job of increasing the number of women who have become presidents. We are doing a better job in minorities, but we are not at the playoffs. You (PHCC) have a lot of minority students. It’s important for our faculty, our staff and our leaders to kind of look like the community that we are serving.”
Godwin said of the selection process, “there is no finer, more professional or well-organized search than the Virginia Community College System presidential search.”
While Godwin’s involvement in the selection of the new president will be minimal, she encouraged the board to consider the impact of the future of the college on the entire community.
“We talk a lot around here about looking down the road and around the corner. This is an opportunity for you to do that,” Godwin said. “Patrick Henry is a much more complex, much more sophisticated institution than its size would sometimes tell. Our college is embedded in equity and access. That is very much a priority, as it should be.”
Applicants interested in applying for the position may visit https://jobs.vccs.edu/postings/31798.