Harris named new interim chancellor

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Zelema Harris will take over as interim chancellor April 15.

By CHELO GRUBB

Pima Community College’s governing board  has named retried Chicago educator Zelema Harris  as the college’s new interim chancellor.

Members of the college’s governing board, other employee groups and a student interviewed Harris.

Board chair Brenda Even said she was the obvious choice from the candidates provided by the Association of Community College Trustees.

Even said everyone involved in the interview process was “so incredibly on the same track” about which candidate to hire.

Harris retired in June 2011 from St. Louis Community College. She was the chancellor of that college for four years.

“She has led St. Louis Community College through major challenges during a period of extraordinary growth for our institution, and has done an outstanding job in her leadership role,” then-STLCC board chair Denise Chachere said in a News Gazette article about the announcement.

She will remain in the interim position until a permanent chancellor is in place. Despite a recent restart of the chancellor search process, the college is aiming to have a new chancellor by July 1.

However, Even said that Harris’ contract was worded in a way that would allow her to remain with the college for an elongated period of time should the chancellor search process take longer than previously expected.

Her first day on college grounds will be Monday, April 15.

Current interim Suzanne Miles’ final day in the position will be Friday, April 12.

Miles was appointed to the position following former Chancellor Roy Flores’ departure from Pima. Flores, who has been accused for sexually harassing eight female employees, cited health concerns as his reason for leaving the college.

A report submitted to the college’s accreditor noted “claims that the interim chancellor has not been candid or honest in her responses” to the accreditor.

Days after the report was released, Miles sent an email to all Pima employees saying she had made the decision to step down.

“It has now become clear that my continued service as interim chancellor could be viewed as an obstacle to moving forward,” Miles’ email said.

Just before the report was published, Miles was announced as a finalist for a college president position at an Oregon college.

Miles withdrew from consideration on March 20; six days after she was named as a finalist, five days after the critical report was published and one day after announcing she would stepping down as interim chancellor.

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