Las Positas College’s interim president won’t be applying for the permanent position as the institution’s leader.
Roanna Bennie said she’d stay on until the new president takes the reins, but she chose not to apply for “carefully-considered personal and professional reasons.” She broke the news during a Sept. 4 campus meeting after the applications for the position had closed. Five finalists have since been selected.
Bennie began her career at Las Positas College in Livermore when she was selected for vice president of academic services in 2015. Two years later, when college President Barry A. Russell retired, she took over as interim president. Her contract has since been extended three times.
“Ms. Bennie had a good relationship with the faculty and when she became interim president, all of the campus staff recognized that she was the right choice to lead the college,” said Diane Brady, vice president of administrative services. “People especially appreciate her frequent and open communications with the campus; she fosters an inclusive environment where everyone’s voice can be heard.”
Bennie headed the college during a period of major changes to California’s community college system with new mandates from the state.
“The most disruptive of these was the imposition of a new method to determine funding for the colleges, which has disadvantaged colleges in the Bay Area particularly,” Brady said. “With each new challenge, Ms. Bennie has responded with a positive attitude, tackling each project head on. Las Positas College has become more successful in its goal of helping students succeed due to her leadership.”
The Chabot-Las Positas Community College District (CLPCCD) hopes to have a permanent president approved by the board before the end of the year so the new leader can start in January.
“Because the date of my departure is not defined yet, I do not have a clear professional path mapped out, and I am considering my options,” Bennie said. “On a personal note, there will certainly be more visits to my six grandchildren, and I may take up golf again, along with more gardening.”
Bennie pointed out her highlights as interim president, including having helped “build that sense of community and unity of purpose that LPC has been known for since its inception. During this time of unexpected leadership transition, we have pulled together as a campus community to increase enrollment, develop a facilities master plan, advance our practice of shared governance, respond admirably to state initiatives for student success, build new and long-lasting community partners, and plan toward the future with a new state funding model.”
After having contributed to the college’s success, Bennie will step down taking with her the gifts she gained through her work.
“The opportunity to serve the entire LPC campus community in our heartfelt efforts to serve students has been my deepest privilege,” she said. “It has stretched and strengthened my leadership skills and allowed me to build some enduring relationships.”
The five finalists for Las Positas College president are:
Dyrell Foster, Ed.D., is the vice president of student services at Moreno Valley College in Moreno Valley, Calif. Previously, Foster served as an administrator at Rio Hondo College, Mt. San Antonio College, Evergreen Valley College and San Jose State University. He earned a doctorate in education from the University of Southern California; a master of science in counseling from California State University, Long Beach and a bachelor of science in applied behavioral science from University of California, Davis.
Marsha Gable, Ed.D., is the vice president of student services at Grossmont College in El Cajon, Calif. Previously, she was dean of counseling services at Cuyamaca College in El Cajon. Gable earned a doctorate in educational leadership with an emphasis in community college leadership from San Diego State University, and her master’s and bachelor’s degrees in social sciences and sociological practice from California State University, San Marcos.
Don Miller, Ph.D., is vice president of instruction at the College of Alameda and serves as vice president of the California Community Colleges Chief Instructional Officers organization. In the past he was the interim vice president of academic services, a dean of academic services for the division of arts and humanities and dean of learning communities at Las Positas College. Miller earned his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Virginia and a bachelor of arts degree in Spanish from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
Katrina VanderWoude, Ed.D., is the president of Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Calif. Previously, she served as vice president of academic affairs at Grossmont College in El Cajon. VanderWoude earned her doctorate in educational leadership with an emphasis in higher education, organizational systems and development, and student affairs from Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich.
Tina Vasconcellos, Ph.D., is the vice president of student services and accreditation liaison officer at the College of Alameda in Alameda. She previously served as dean of academic and student affairs at Laney College and Merritt College in Oakland. Vasconcellos earned her doctorate in philosophy with a focus on community college leadership from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. She also has a master’s degree in counseling psychology with an emphasis in multicultural and holistic counseling from John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, Calif.
The five hopefuls took part in a public forum on Sept. 25 that gave each a chance to introduce themselves, followed by a question and answer session. People in the audience filled out feedback forms for the interim chancellor to review.
A video recording of the forum is expected to be available on Sept. 26.