Community forums will be part of selection process

The final steps in selecting the next president for Pratt Community College will involve two community forums with the final two candidates.

Community candidate forums will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Monday, July 8 and from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 10 in Carpenter Auditorium on the PCC campus, said Eric Webb, assistant to the president, planning and aid assessment.

The public is invited to attend both forums and ask the candidates questions.

The president search committee has narrowed the field of candidates to two. Each candidate will appear at one of the two forums.

Each candidate will have 10 minutes to make opening statements then answer questions from the audience.

Candidate Michael Calvert will appear at the Monday forum. Calvert is currently president of Central Community College, part of the Nebraska Community College system.

Calvert started his professional career as a football coach. He joined Butler Community College as head football coach in the early 1990s and eventually rose to academic dean at the end of his tenure there in 2012.

He has been a college president for one year and wants to move back to Kansas where he is familiar with the Kansas Community College system and has many contacts across the state.

Candidate Darrell Hammon will appear at Wednesday's forum. Hammon is currently self-employed as a consultant and writer. He previously held the office of president at Laramie County Community College in Wyoming and Miles Community College in Montana.

Hammon began his career as an English teacher and adjunct instructor. He lives in the Salt Lake City area.

"We have two strong candidates," Webb said. "Both have experience as president and either would do a good job. We just have to determine who is a better fit with their personality, goals and experience."

Besides the community forums, the candidates will also tour Pratt and the PCC campus, meet with business leaders, meet with administration and have an all employee forum then have a personal interview and dinner with the PCC Board of Trustees.

The final selection will be up to the trustees who plan on making a decision during the week of July 15, Webb said.

The PCC Trustees consist of President Ken Van Blaricum, Vice President Michele Hamm, Stan Reimer, Mike Koler, Jeff Shumway, Darrell Shumway and Dwane DeWeese.

Former Trustee Wendell Howell went off the board at the end of the fiscal year on June 30. Because he was on the board during most of the presidential search, Howell was invited to stay and take part in the final evaluations of the candidates but he will not take part in the final vote, Webb said.

The search for a new PCC president started in the middle of March with ads in higher education publications calling for applications due May 7.

A search committee consisting of three PCC trustees, 10 community members and five representatives from the college staff, administration and student body reviewed the 28 applications and cut the list to 12.

Those 12 were asked to submit a DVD where they each had from 11 to 12 minutes to answer the same six questions. Then the candidates had a live interview with the committee via ITV before the list was cut to the final two.

Although Webb has fielded a lot of questions during the process, especially why the process didn't go faster, he is pleased with the process and the outcome.

"It's gone pretty well," Webb said. "It takes a while to get it done right. We wanted input from all directions so we could get the right person for the job."

Once the final selection is made, the new president will work with retired President William Wojciechowski who agreed to stay on as an advisor to help the new president during his transition into the new position.