WINCHESTER — Umpqua Community College’s board of education is looking for its next president to be an extroverted team builder who leads with empathy and compassion, among other qualities.
The UCC board voted 6-0 to approve a presidential profile at Wednesday’s regular board meeting, while board member Doris Lathrop abstained from the vote. The board dedicated a work session prior to the meeting to working out the language for the profile.
Board chair Steve Loosley said, “The vision is really to help the college do well and see where we’re going and then have the charisma and the leadership skills to, you know, take everybody in that direction.”
The board created the presidential profile where it noted eight qualities the ideal president should possess and eight expectations of the president as well as qualifications required for the job and a brief description of the area and college.
The profile states that the next president should be “a person who, at the core of their DNA, has the interest of the students at heart” and “who wants to be visible and make a significant community impact.”
Lathrop, who abstained from the vote, expressed concerns about the process the board was using to find its new president.
“I would just like to observe and maybe learn because I am obviously the only one who’s old school, I guess,” she said during the work session. “I’m just not on board with the way you’re doing it, but I’m not going to object so I’m just going to sit back and observe.”
The board developed key characteristics during a board retreat on Aug. 20 and since then administered a community survey and reviewed the public profile.
All documents related to the search for the next UCC president will be online at umpqua.edu/presidential-search. The presidential profile is expected to be posted online next week.
“It’s a job advertisement, as opposed to a job description,” Loosley said about the presidential profile. “It’s to sum up the qualities and attributes that the college is looking for in the next president, after Dr. (Debra) Thatcher retires. It’s also indicating what some key topics are that the board and the college would like the president to be working on, or to be thinking about.”
During the work session, the board also discussed the results of the community survey, which yielded 263 responses.
Survey results showed that 93.13% of people think education quality is very important, with student recruitment next in line, followed by community and business relationships. Most of the survey takers found it very important for the next president to be trustworthy and a good listener.
Board member Twila McDonald said, “I was happy with the results, as far as I was happy with the number of people that actually took the survey. I didn’t see anything necessarily that super surprised me, but it felt like it kind of confirmed some of the things we have discussed before, so I was pretty happy with that.”
According to a preliminary presidential profile presented at the work session, the ideal president is someone who builds teams and networks; leads with empathy and compassion; is an extrovert (or good at faking it); can cast a vision; embraces innovation and change; takes risks, fails fast and learns; values, understands, and serves the rural community; and is relatable and has a sense of humor.
There were some questions in the work session regarding some of the language, including “fails fast.” Board member David Littlejohn said this was inspired by John Maxwell’s quote “fail early, fail often, but fail forward.”
The next president is expected to guide the college through its 2023 accreditation, extend relationships with the community, promote an inclusive campus climate, stay in front of trends, enhance the quality of classes and programs, lower barriers to student success and access, make data-driven decisions and have fun.
The work session and board meeting were streamed through Facebook Live, but the video for the work session was interrupted twice and members of the public were unable to view approximately 10 minutes of the 45-minute discussion on the topic of the presidential profile.
The online application process for president opens Oct. 26 and will close Jan. 4. After that, a search advisory committee will start narrowing down the candidates and the board will announce the finalists in a public meeting in February.
The new president is expected to be announced at a March board meeting.