Candidates include former St. Philip’s administrator, OLLU assistant VP and a longtime faculty member at this college.
By Michelle Delgado
Three runners-up for vice president of college services visited this college Nov. 28-30 for a campus tour, open forum and daylong interviews.
For nearly nine months, the role of vice president of college services has yet to be filled since the death of David Mrizek in March.
Dr. Mecca Salahuddin, dean of organizational learning and effectiveness at Tacoma Community College in Tacoma, Wash., visited Nov. 28.
She was born and raised in San Antonio, so the transition from Washington to Texas shouldn’t be a problem, she said in an interview with The Ranger.
Salahuddin says if she obtains the position she’d like to collaborate with the district since she knows this college works closely with Alamo Colleges officials.
“I want to help collaborate with the district and making sure that SAC is prioritized in terms of getting funding and resources that we need to implement effective strategies and initiatives that ultimately impacts student success,” she said.
Prior to her three years at TCC, she served as director of institutional planning, research and effectiveness at St. Philip’s College for about eight years.
“This will bring me back home,” she said of the VP position.
This is the second round of VPCS finalists.
Two previous candidates were not given the position and one withdrew due to the performance excellence aspect of the position, President Robert Vela told The Ranger in a Sept. 19 story.
The college rejected Charles Barkman, executive director of facilities at Freed Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn., and Dr. Jerrel Wade, dean of administration at San Jacinto College-North Campus in Houston. Dr. Conrad Krueger, dean of arts and sciences, withdrew himself from the race after learning the performance excellence qualification was a big part of the role.
The college decided to search for three more candidates in September.
Salahuddin said performance excellence is one of her strengths.
“That’s a key aspect of the position that attracted me to it — because I have a lot of that in my background,” Salahuddin said.
Open forums were held each day 2-3 p.m., which gave faculty, staff and students the opportunity to ask the finalists questions. Audience member count ranged from 12-15 on each day.
Dr. Kara Larkin-Skinner, assistant vice president of institutional effectiveness and accreditation at Our Lady of the Lake University, visited Nov. 29.
“I’d like to be in this position perhaps indefinitely; this is on my career path and where I’d like to end up,” Larkin-Skinner said. “I’m more focused on making a difference and trying to improve things.”
Larkin-Skinner has lived in San Antonio for four years while at OLLU. She is originally from Amarillo.
“I love San Antonio, and I hope I don’t ever move again,” she said.
Larkin-Skinner has 10 years of experience in the performance excellence role.
“I feel like it’s integral to advancement of college priorities and innovation, so it’s something that would definitely be a priority to me,” she said.
Larkin-Skinner said she would like to improve visibility, including open forums, during her role as VPCS.
“I do have and will have an open-door policy,” she said. “I’m big on assessment and feedback so I’d really like to survey or have focus groups and really understand the students’ perspective.”
Dr. Stella Lovato, chair of allied health and kinesiology at this college, was the final candidate on Nov. 30.
Lovato will mark 30 years at this campus in January.
“I love this school, and you have to have a passion if you’re going to be the VP of college services,” Lovato said. “I graduated from here with my associate degree, so this is my home,” she said.
Lovato said she wants to get student feedback on what they want out of the campus, whether it be inside or outside the classroom.
“I’d like to find out what the students want for us to do on campus,” Lovato said. “I see a lot of those people just lying on the hammocks; don’t we need more of those areas?”
Each candidate was in favor of hearing all opinions of staff members when it came to their leadership philosophy.
“I would like to see how our college services functions and meet with staff to see what their ideas and strategic plan is to see how I can help with any of that,” Lovato said. “Then I would like to go to district and be the champion for San Antonio College.”
Lovato suggested the idea of stepping outside of the box when it comes to meeting the needs of the institution and the needs of district.
“I’d also like to see how other colleges are working outside of San Antonio College,” she said. “Sometimes we lose sight of some of the things we’re doing and if we’re doing a good job.”
Heather Cura, instructional technology supervisor, interviewed the candidates at each forum about technology at this college.
“That’s the unit that I report to,” Cura said. “It’s in direct relationship to our functions of the college.”
Usha Venkat, director of information technology, chairs the committee in charge of the search for a new vice president of college services.
“This is a great experience for me,” she said.
Venkat says Vela was interested in taking the recommendation to a December board meeting, and she hopes the decision will be made within a couple of weeks.