After two nationwide searches, the Chabot-Las Positas Community College District has selected one of its own to lead the 29,000-student district.
Ronald P. Gerhard, 45, former vice chancellor for business services, who had been serving as interim chancellor since January 2019, was named permanent chancellor last week in a 6-0 vote by the Board of Trustees.
The two-college district – Chabot College in Hayward and Las Positas College in Livermore – had been without a permanent leader since former chancellor Jannett Jackson resigned in August 2018, soon after the trustees decided not to extend her contract. Jackson had been chancellor for five years.
"I am honored to continue to lead our district in the permanent role of chancellor," Gerhard said in a statement. "Our colleges are vital to our communities and I look forward to providing stable leadership in these unpredictable times.”
Gerhard was the third interim chancellor at Chabot-Las Positas in the last 20 months. Chancellor Emeritus Susan Cota briefly returned in an interim capacity in the immediate aftermath of Jackson’s resignation. She was followed by Thomas Fallo, a retired, longtime California community college administrator, who was appointed through the end of 2018.
Gerhard was then appointed interim chancellor after the Board of Trustees rejected three finalists from the district’s initial nationwide search. Gerhard was not a candidate during that first search, but he was a candidate, and ultimately a finalist, in the district’s second search.
The other two finalists in the second search were Santanu Bandyopadhyay, president of Columbia College in Sonora, California, and Bryan Reece, former president of Norco College in Norco California.
When he started his term as interim chancellor, Gerhard said, he wasn’t sure he was interested in the permanent position.
“After some time in the position, I found myself enjoying both the challenges and successes of the job,” Gerhard said. “I had started new projects that I hoped to see through to the end, and realized I wanted to continue to serve the students and community in the capacity of chancellor.”
Board of Trustees President Edralin J. “Ed” Maduli said Gerhard had proven himself as an exemplary leader in the district and community.
“He has a long and successful history in helping California community colleges become successful institutions of student learning and access,” Maduli said. “He has been able to help bring our district together, and we are confident that he, along with his leadership team, will guide us through these challenging times.”
Maduli represents Area 7 on the Board of Trustees, which encompasses Livermore and parts of Pleasanton.
Gerhard has been with the community college district since 2017, when he was named vice president of administrative services at Chabot. He was named vice chancellor for business services in 2018. He previously held various finance and administrative positions at City College of San Francisco, Peraltra Community College, Compton Community College and San Bernardino Community College. He earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting at the University of Redlands, in Redlands, California, and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of California, Riverside.
One of the challenges Gerhard said he came to enjoy as interim chancellor was lobbying lawmakers and policy makers in Sacramento to change the new student-centered funding formula, which, he said, could cost Chabot-Las Positas $6 million a year.
Equally important, Gerhard said, is guiding Chabot-Las Positas during the COVID-19 pandemic and classroom closures and working with public/private partners and local school districts to increase enrollment and transfer opportunities.
As chancellor, Gerhard will be paid $340,000 annually, a 24% increase over what he received as interim chancellor.
Chabot College opened in 1961 at a temporary site in Leandro, moving to a nearly 100-acre campus in Hayward in 1965. Las Positas College in Livermore began as an extension program in 1963, later known as the Livermore Education Center of Chabot College. With a 147-acre campus in Livermore, Las Positas became an independent college in 1988 and was fully accredited in 1991. Administrative offices for the Chabot-Las Positas Community College are in Dublin.