The Central Oregon Community College Board of Directors has decided on an interim president: Shirley Metcalf.
The choice hire Metcalf, the current extended learning dean for COCC, was a “unanimous selection,” according to Board Chairman Bruce Abernethy. Metcalf is expected to start her interim presidency Sept. 15, and will be receiving training from current retiring president Dr. Jim Middleton. Middleton approves of the decision.
“She will provide great leadership in the short term, and create a really great bridge,” he said.
If contract negotiations are successful, Metcalf will be filling the gap opened by the board’s recent decision not to hire any of the three presidential finalists.
The decision was made following the discovery that the top pick for the COCC president position, Dr. Patrick Lanning, was on administrative leave from his current employer. On April 9, the board of directors made the decision to not hire Lanning or the other two candidate finalists.
“This has been a very difficult situation and a very difficult process for us to go through,” Abernethy said at the meeting.
Metcalf had been contacted by the Board of Directors about her interest in the role prior to the April 14 announcement.
“I love the college and the community,” Metcalf said, following the announcement from the board. “I’ll make sure to give my heart and soul to this job.”
Metcalf already has experience working at a number of colleges. Starting at Hawaii Community College under the University of Hawaii system, Metcalf has been working in the college sector since 1975. Born and raised in Hawaii, Metcalf was first an instructor, and then received her tenure as a professor in business. In 1994, Metcalf became the dean of outreach for the college, gathering state and legislative support on funding issues.
Metcalf living in Hawaii for 30 years, but decided to move to either Washington or Oregon in 2002. Metcalf applied for positions at both COCC and Lake Washington Institute of Technology, but while she was the favored candidate at COCC, LWIT offered her a job before COCC, and Metcalf moved to Kirkland, Wash. to assume the role of executive vice president for instruction.
Metcalf became the vice president for advancement prior to her switch to COCC, and was a finalist in 2010 when South Seattle Community College was looking for a president.
In 2011, Metcalf made the switch to COCC, where she took over her current role as the extended learning dean. Having held a number of roles at community colleges should help her in the interim presidency.
“I understand instruction at this college,” Metcalf said. “I also understand the non-credit area, because I’m very entrepreneurial, and like to find ways to apply for grants, find different sources of money.”
As Metcalf prepares to step into the role of interim president, she says her goal is to “stabilize, because we had the failed search.”
“I wouldn’t apply for the [presidency] position,” Metcalf said. “What I’m doing is because the college needs someone who has the experience, credentials and the background … to move it forward until the permanent president can come.”
Preparing for the future
Meanwhile, COCC’s next hurdle is deciding who to appoint as president – after Metcalf’s year comes to an end. COCC will be continuing the process of looking for a president replacement at the beginning of the 2014-2014 school year.
“You’re never done until you’re done,” Middleton said. “It was certainly a disappointment that we weren’t able to get things completed in the first round.”
While his presidency has been extended from July to September, Middleton said he has still enjoyed his time overseeing the college.
“The finish line moved a little farther down the road, but that’s fine,” Middleton said. “[It’s been] a great professional and person opportunity to provide leadership and be a part of this institution. It’s been a real highlight of my professional career.”
Junnelle Hogen | The Broadside