State Center college leader Deborah Blue a finalist for Louisiana job

The Fresno BeeJanuary 20, 2014 

Deborah Blue

The leader of the State Center Community College District is in Louisiana this week to interview as one of seven finalists to be president of a community college system.

Deborah Blue, who has served as State Center chancellor since 2010, will interview with the Louisiana Community and Technical College System's search committee Tuesday, the system announced in a news release.

Blue, an Illinois native, is up for the system's top job. She would oversee 13 community college campuses that dot Louisiana. The system educates about 101,000 students annually, school officials said.Blue confirmed through email that she's in the running for the position. In her brief response, she said, "I was recruited to apply and feel it is a wonderful opportunity."

She is one of three candidates who hail from California. The other finalists include:

• Joan Smith, chancellor of the Modesto-based Yosemite Community College District;

• David Steele, dean of the College of Business for San Jose State University;

• Marshall Drummond, former chief operating officer and provost of Higher Colleges of Technology in the United Arab Emirates;

• Marie Gnage, president of West Virginia University at Parkersburg;

• James Henderson, chancellor of Bossier Parish Community College in Louisiana;

• Monty Sullivan, chancellor of Delgado Community College in Louisiana.

The presidential post is being vacated by Joe May, said LCTCS spokesman Quintin Taylor. May served for seven years before recently accepting a chancellor position at a community college district in Dallas.

The job would be a step up for Blue, who currently manages two large community colleges and several smaller campuses across Madera and Fresno counties. The State Center district serves more than 34,000 students.

The former Contra Costa Community College District administrator was hired to replace outgoing State Center Chancellor Tom Crow in 2010. Her last reported salary in 2012 was $223,000.

She hasn't carved out an aggressive public agenda, but is best known for championing diversity on campus. Since taking office, she's faced steep state budget cuts and dealt with shrinking course offerings. In recent years, the district was able to avoid pay cuts and layoffs, but did impose wage freezes.

At State Center, Blue oversees 2,980 faculty and staff.

She previously worked as an associate dean at Fresno City College and also served as president at Oakland-based Laney College.

Most recently, Blue was appointed to Fresno State President Joseph Castro's transition team.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6412, or @hannahfurfaro on Twitter.

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