Clovis Community College has narrowed the search for its new president down to three women — on of which was recently fired as president of an East Coast community college.
One of the three women will replace current president Deborah Ikeda, who is retiring this month.
The finalists attended a forum May 11 to speak to the public about their visions for the school. All three were asked complicated questions about faculty-administration conflicts, monetary allocations, athletics and a host of other challenges they might encounter as president of Clovis Community College.
State Center Community College District Chancellor Dr. Paul Parnell will select the next president and the State Center Community College District Board of Trustees will vote on her hiring at or before the June 14 board meeting, said Clovis Community College spokeswoman Stephanie Babb.
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The new president will assume duties on or around July 1.
Lori A. Bennett is the executive vice president of student services at Moorpark College in Ventura County. She has 24 years of experience in community college education and has spent the last 20 years at Moorpark College.
Bennett started as a part-time business instructor at Highline Community College in Des Moines, Washington and worked her way up to her current position. At Moorpark, she has served in all capacities from instructor to department chair to dean to vice president.
Bennett said she is familiar with the challenges of a three-college district like this one (State Center Community College District encompasses Clovis Community College, Fresno City College and Reedley College), because her district includes Moorpark College, Oxnard College and Ventura College.
Meridith Randall is the vice president of instruction at Shasta College in Redding. She has 23 years of experience in community college education.
Randall was a litigation attorney before becoming an English instructor at Palau Community College in Koror, Republic of Palau. She became the dean of academic affairs there before moving to Ukiah and taking a position as the assistant dean of instruction at Mendocino College. Within six years, she became the school’s vice president of education and student services.
Randall spent 12 years at Mendocino College before becoming intrigued by the challenge of getting Shasta College off of its probationary status, she said. She has served as the school’s vice president of instruction for 4 years.
Gale Gibson Gayle was fired April 20 from her position as president of Essex County College in Newark, New Jersey, following a three-week suspension. During the forum, Gibson Gayle spoke about her family wanting to relocate to the West Coast, and about her history as an athlete and family roots in Barbados. She never mentioned she had been fired from her last job.
Between 1995 and 2011, Gibson Gayle worked her way up the ladder at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York, beginning as an assistant professor and eventually becoming a professor and founding dean.
Gibson Gayle became the senior vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer at Essex County College in 2011 and was named president of the college less than two years later. She was fired amid allegations of bullying her staff, according to newspapers in New Jersey.
Gibson Gayle told The Bee her attorney had instructed her to say as little as possible about her dismissal, but did say that a college president has an important responsibility to address “financial improprieties.”
The three finalists were selected by a committee at Clovis Community College who worked with Education Leadership Search Group to find qualified candidates.
Parnell told The Bee after the forum he didn’t know about Gibson Gayle’s dismissal and wouldn’t comment during the middle of the hiring process.