Members of the Lee College community got the chance to meet the first of four final candidates to take on leadership of the institution after the retirement of College President Dennis Brown in January, as Dr. Lynda Villanueva addressed three public forums and met in private with the Board of Regents.

Villanueva is provost and vice president for academic and student affairs at Brazosport College in Lake Jackson.

“Lee College serves a rich and diverse array of students and I see myself in that array,” Villanueva said. 

She said she comes from a background of poverty and is the first in her family to attain a college degree and so understands the need to focus on student success.

With her background at Brazosport College, Villanueva said she has dealt with some of the same issues Lee College has, particularly the need to work with an expanding petrochemical industry to provide training not only for newcomers to the workforce, but also training in new skills for established workers.

“I consider myself a transformational leader, a person who takes charge, who creates a vision for the work of the college, who engages followers as full and respected partners and who focuses on achieving agreed-upon results.”

When asked about major issues facing Lee College, Villanueva said that trust needs to be reestablished between faculty and the administration.

A college has not only a written contract with its faculty members, she said, but also a psychological one that expects hard work and loyalty to be rewarded with support and commitment, and some faculty feel that commitment has not been honored.

She also said a priority is the conflict between Lee College and the Barbers Hill school district, which she said is a threat not only too Lee College but to community colleges across the state.

As president, she said she would need to meet with both Barbers Hill and with Lone Star College to understand the dynamics of the situation.

She also discussed the need to meet with school superintendents and other key staff in the more rural school districts to understand their particular needs, which can differ from the more urban Goose Creek district.

Villanueva said that Lee College compares well to its neighboring community college districts in getting students to measurable achievements--associate degree, technical certificate or transfer to a four-year school--but that it is losing ground in those areas and needs to address that.

Community members will have the chance to see the three other finalists today, Wednesday and Thursday.

Each will answer questions at public forums in Tucker Hall on campus at 8 a.m. for faculty, 11:15 p.m. for administrators and staff and 2:30 p.m. for students and the community. No one is limited to only attending the forum matching their relationship to the college. Regents will interview each candidate in executive session in the evening.

• Today’s candidate is Dr. Stephen W. Dunnivant, dean of business, industry and technology at Tallahassee Community College.

• Wednesday’s candidate is Dr. Johnny Moore, president of Pierpont Community and Technical College in Fairmont, West Virginia.

• Thursday’s candidate is Dr. Scott Scarborough, professor of practice-School of Accounting at the University of Akron and previous University of Akron president.

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