By ELI BECHT, WILL KRISS, BRANDON CRAWFORD, HEATHER HESSELINK and KAILYN RAPHAEL
With MMCC President Carol Churchill’s retirement less than three months away, the college’s search for a new president is right on schedule.Lew Bender, an outside consultant hired to assist in the search, addressed the college’s Academic Council recently to update members on the search process. A former professor of public administration at Southern Illinois University, Bender currently works as a specialist in training and organizational development for business and government, according to his website.
Bender said that after the president’s job was posted, applications were received from 23 candidates. “We have a very diverse geographic group, including applicants from New York and Texas,” he said.Bender, who also helped in the selection of Churchill seven years ago, said the applicants were individually very strong and qualified.
The group of 23 was reduced to 10 on April 4 and the top 10 were presented to the MMCC Board of Trustees on April 7. Despite the top 10 list, the board saw and considered all 23 applicants, which was then reduced by the board to a list of five.
Bender said he will do reference and background checks on the top candidates. The Board of Trustees eventually will narrow the list to four and only those candidates will be interviewed for the position. The list of the final four candidates will be made public on April 22, according to Bender. He would not reveal if any of original 23 applicants are current MMCC employees.
According to Bender, there are five primary areas or “guideposts” that the Board of Trustees decided to look at in the presidential selection process: communication and external relations; finance and business management; general person-centered qualities, such as commitment to MMCC and whether the candidate is goal-oriented; philosophy of education; and orientation to personnel, such as sensitivity to diversity and attitudes on teamwork.
An extensive interview process with the top four candidates will occur on May 21 when the candidates will visit MMCC’s campuses. All segments of MMCC employees as well as community members from Mt. Pleasant, Clare, and Gladwin will be represented in the selection process. “The idea is to get maximum input to the board,” Bender said
An informal poll of students on the Mt. Pleasant campus recently revealed that most were not aware of Churchill’s departure and the search, but they did have an opinion on what qualities the MMCC board should be looking for.
For nursing student Rebecca Cogswell, the new president should have “commitment to continuing to excel in health technologies.”
Overall, students agreed that the new leader should be someone interested in the wellbeing of the students. One student noted, the president should be “someone familiar with the best practices of running a community college, including retaining students and quality teachers and other employees.”
Bender said that although he is assisting with the search process, the seven-member MMCC Board of Trustees will make the final decision.
Churchill announced publicly on Nov. 27 that she was retiring at the end of June. Since then, the search has been on for her successor. She is the fifth president at MMCC. She has noted that her main reason for leaving is family. “Our grandchildren are growing up, and we find that we have missed whole parts of their lives,” she stated in an email to employees.