PCC names Lambert new chancellor

wPg04-Lambert-finalist

PCC Chancellor Lee Lambert

Compiled from a PCC press release

Pima Community College has hired Lee D. Lambert as chancellor.

At a special meeting on May 17, the PCC governing board voted unanimously to enter into a three-year contract with Lambert.

Since 2006, Lambert has been president of Shoreline Community College in Shoreline, Wash.

“I am honored and pleased to be selected as chancellor. Pima Community College is a place committed to student access and success,” Lambert said. “Together I will work with any and all groups to advance the mission of the college.”

Lambert’s contract will start on July 1. His annual base pay will be $290,000.

Before being named president at Shoreline, Lambert served as the Seattle-area institution’s vice president for human resources and legal affairs.

He earned a law degree from Seattle University School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.

Lambert’s selection followed a fact-finding trip to Shoreline by a six-member PCC team.

Team members shared observations and insights with the board and the community during the May 17 meeting.

They were unanimous in their support of Lambert as “the right person to lead us to a brighter tomorrow,” according to board member Sylvia Lee.

“I had hoped I would find reasons to say no,” Lee said. Instead, “I found numerous reasons to say yes.”

Lee was one of several team members who noted that Lambert led Shoreline out of a fiscal crisis brought on by Washington state legislature budget cuts.

Partnerships with area industries have rejuvenated many of the school’s programs, such as Machine Tool Technology and Automotive Technology, Lee said.

The team found Lambert to be a leader of integrity who has made Shoreline a place of “collegiality, vision and respect,” said Terra Benson, PCC director of admissions and registrar.

“He’s a CEO, not a micromanager,” said PCC Foundation member Norm Rebenstorf.

He called Lambert’s managerial style clear, strategic and inclusive, and said Lambert expects his administrators to have “eight or nine irons in the fire, always properly heated.”

Rebenstorf, who also served on the independent citizens’ search committee that initially vetted numerous chancellor candidates, praised Lambert’s inclusive leadership style and hands-on approach to management.

“He will take this college to another level,” Rebenstorf said.

History instructor Kimlisa Salazar Duchicela noted that Shoreline was a welcoming and diverse institution with a multicultural center, a women’s center and “academic vibrancy.”

Shoreline is “a place where one wanted to be,” she said. “I believe strongly an institution reflects its leadership.”

Like Lee, Salazar Duchicela said she “looked under every rock, crevice and azalea … but couldn’t find the [red] flags I was looking for” to disqualify Lambert.

West Campus President Lou Albert described Lambert as a man of high integrity who keeps “the big picture in mind.”

“I am confident he can make the college one of the best in the country,” Albert said. “We all need to rally around this man.”

Lambert was one of four finalists selected by an independent citizens’ Search Advisory Committee. He was identified as the leading candidate on May 10.

He visited PCC on April 29-30 to take part in employee and public forums, visit the college’s six campuses, and meet administrators, the PCC Foundation and the governing board.

Lambert is the sixth person since 1992 to occupy the position of PCC chancellor, including two who served on an interim basis. Before 1992, PCC was led by presidents.

Zelema Harris has served as interim chancellor since April 16. Her last day at PCC will be June 30.

 

 

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By ANDREW PAXTON

Pima Community College’s governing board has named a front-runner for taking over the chancellor position on a permanent basis, despite calls from many groups to halt or postpone the search.

The Board of Governors expressed interest during a special May 10 governing board meeting in having Lee Lambert, current president of Shoreline Community College, take over as Pima’s leader .

During the meeting, board chair Brenda Even said Lambert was “the candidate that seemed to rise to the top,” according to a statement released by the college.

Lambert toured the college campuses in late April, where he met students, faculty and board members and answered questions regarding how he would successfully lead Pima through probation.

At the May 10 meeting, the board voted unanimously to send a team of board members and administrators to Shoreline, Wash., to conduct a site visit at Lambert’s current college.

The team visited the Seattle-area college May 13-14 and interviewed students, administrators, trustees and faculty, and conducted a tour of the campus.

Lambert has held the top position at Shoreline CC since 2006. He has previous experience dealing with sexual harassment issues, which some feel could prove invaluable following the wake of former chancellor Roy Flores.

Flores retired in June 2012 after multiple allegations of sexual harassment against him came to light, and Pima has been searching for his replacement ever since.

Many groups, including Faculty Senate, Staff Council and several others, believe the same board members that hired Flores and failed to provide oversight should not be the ones to appoint a new leader.

“The faculty has voted no-confidence in this board. They shouldn’t be the ones hiring the new chancellor,” Faculty Senate president Joe Labuda said following an April board meeting.

Pima’s handling of the sexual harassment allegations and lack of board oversight are among the reasons the college is now on probation, according to a report from the Higher Learning Commission, Pima’s accrediting body.

Flores’ interim replacement, Suzanne Miles, resigned after criticism from the HLC, including claims she was not truthful with a team sent to investigate the sexual harassment claims and other issues reported at the college.

Following Miles’ resignation, Pima hired Zelema Harris, a retired St. Louis Community College chancellor, to head the college on an interim basis, while continuing the search for a permanent replacement. Harris’s contract runs through June 30, with a possibility to extend to Aug. 23.

The college now seems poised to appoint Lee to fill the position. The board held an executive session on May 15 to discuss contract negotiations with Lambert, according to an agenda posted on Pima’s website.

A board meeting is scheduled for May 17 at 11 a.m. to “select a successful finalist for chancellor position.” Lambert has been the only finalist named by the college.

However, not everyone involved in the chancellor search believes Lambert should take over PCC.

A group of representatives from Pima’s faculty, staff and administrators released a statement expressing a lack of faith in any of the candidates for the position.

“We do not wish to have a full-time chancellor who has lesser credentials than the current interim chancellor,” the statement said, referring to Harris.

Unlike Harris, Lambert does not have experience handling large multi-campus institutions such as Pima, nor does he have experience dealing accreditation issues. But Harris has said she has no desire to stay at Pima beyond August.

“While we regret this situation and appreciate the good-faith participation of these candidates in this process, we cannot recommend a candidate,” the statement concluded.

Much of the feedback from faculty, staff and administrators for Lambert was positive, with many citing “success working at previous institutions with major challenges” as one of his leading strengths, according to survey results posted online.

But not everyone agreed.

Some felt that Lambert’s lack of experience with large institutions or an elected board, a failure to grasp the severity Pima’s probation, and a “ sizable ego” were reasons why he should not be the one to lead the college.

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