Members of the Santa Fe Community College governing board have said they will announce the college’s new president at their meeting on March 27. The decision has narrowed down to three finalists, as two announced at a board meeting that they have withdrawn from consideration for the position.
“People withdraw for a variety of reasons, like getting another job or changing their mind about relocating,” board member Martha Romero said. “But we’re comfortable that we have had a good pool of candidates throughout the process and will be able to make the right decision for the college.”
The remaining candidates are all administrators at four-year institutions or other community colleges:
Dr. Kim Armstrong, 57, currently serves as vice president of student affairs at College of the Ouachitas.
Dr. Rebecca Rowley, 54, is president of Clovis Community College and chairs New Mexico Independent Community Colleges. She is the only in-state finalist being considered for the role.
Dr. Raúl Rodríguez, 67, is chancellor of the Rancho Santiago Community College District. The district has eight main campuses located in Orange County, California.
Santa Fe faculty members recently raised concerns about Rodríguez’s background, referring to news articles and court documents related to a controversial relationship with Saudi Arabia that the chancellor oversaw, in addition to questions about accreditation and improper spending of bond funding when he was president of San Joaquin Delta College, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Rodríguez said those incidents did not fairly reflect his work experience.
“These stories are what happens in a collective bargaining state when you have unions that try to sow chaos so they get what they want in their contract,” he said.
Interim vice president of instruction at Clovis Community College Dr. Kimberlee Messina recently withdrew for the Santa Fe presidency shortly after being named a finalist and before participating in a public forum. Messina was recently named president of Spokane Falls Community College, according to several reports.
The last candidate, vice president of learning at Estrella Mountain Community College Dr. Rey Rivera, participated in a public forum on campus before deciding to withdraw from consideration for the position.
“SFCC is a great college. Just some personal considerations would have made the transition a little difficult at this time,” Rivera said.
“We had a very diverse pool. Originally our five finalists were really highly qualified with varied backgrounds,” said board member Linda Siegle. “Now thinking about all three is a difficult decision, but I think that the top candidate will emerge in our executive session.”