Brady Calls Wagner Right Candidate To Meet Challenges At VVCC

(July 2)  VICTORVILLE —Vic tor Valley College Board Member Joe Brady this week expressed absolute confidence in the future prospects of the college as the result of the appointment of former Copper Mountain College president Roger Wagner to serve as the permanent replacement of  departed Victor Valley College superintendent/president Christopher O’Hearn.
The college, which had faced challenges relating to its accreditation since 2011, saw those issues finally redressed in February while the college was under the interim guidance of Peter Allan. Allan had been acting as college superintendent since shortly after the board last year declined to renew O’Hearn’s contract.
There had been dissension on the board relating to perceptions about the alacrity and effectiveness of O’Hearn’s response to a series of moves by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges which placed the college’s accreditation into a state of warning or probation. In February the accrediting commission signaled the college’s status in academic limbo was ended. Shortly thereafter, however, the college lurched into yet another crisis as it was learned that the college is burdened with a $6.3 million deficit in its budget.
Allan, who had come out of retirement to oversee the college over the last 12 months, retreated into retirement at the close of the fiscal year on Monday.
Wagner, who served in the Air Force prior to obtaining a bachelors degree in social science from the University of the Philippines, a master’s degree in organizational management from the University of Phoenix and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nebraska, served as part-time faculty in the disciplines of administration of justice, management, and sociology for Labette Community College in Kansas, Crowder College in Missouri, and Los Angeles Metropolitan College Overseas before becoming the dean of career and technical education, the dean of economic development, and associate dean of instruction at Crowder College in Missouri. He came to Copper Mountain College as the vice president for academic affairs in July of 2007 and acceded to the position of that college’s superintendent/president in July of 2008.
Wagner competed against four other college administrators during the superintendent/president recruitment effort at Victor Valley College. Those included Chaffey College administrator Sherrie Guerrero; Nicholas O. Akinkuoye, an administrator with the City College of San Francisco; Dr. Christopher Villa, the vice president of student services at Fresno City College; and Dr. Luis Sanchez. Even before the board conducted formal interviews with any of the candidates, rumors surfaced that Wagner was a shoo-in to get the position. Subsequently, Guerrero and Akinkuoye dropped out of the competition in late May. After the interviews, the position was formally offered to him and he was subsequently hired on a contract running from July 15 to June 30, 2017 at $192,000 annually plus stipends and benefits.
There was immediate second guessing of the hiring decision from some quarters of the community, with charges that the competition had been fixed from the outset and that Wagner had been anointed very early on.
Brady dismissed such suggestions, saying the competition had been above board and fierce, resulting in a “decision that we all felt was in the best interest of VVC, our students (our stakeholders, stockholders and shareholders), our employee partners, the taxpayers and voters.”
The outcome was not predetermined, Brady said.
“I will assure you, the Pope and the world that there was ‘no deal’ done before we heard from him and we fully vetted the other candidates,” Brady said.  “We got a full – and I mean a full – debriefing on each candidate. The only thing we did not find out was the type of toothpaste they used. It was a very, very impressive background check. I never looked at the names until they were given to us and even then I did not pay any attention until the first interview. Each candidate was given one hour and 15 minutes, as I remember, for the interview. There were, I think, 12 predetermined questions and no one left the room with the questions. There were a number of protections put into place, so there was no ‘tampering’ as I say a few years earlier.”
Anyone seeing something untoward in Guerrero and Akinkuoye’s early exodus from the competition are reading something into the situation that is not there, Brady said.
“The others dropped out for reasons I cannot state, none having to do with Dr. Wagner,” Brady said. “Candidates drop out sometimes after their candidacy becomes public. Maybe their school offered them something that they did not have before? I do not know. I did hear that one of the candidates notified the media.”
Wagner has gone on record as stating that he envisions Victor Valley College becoming “the college of first choice for every community member that seeks a higher education or new work-ready skills.” He said he is ready to deal with the college’s accreditation issues because of his past experience as either a member or chairman of accreditation teams.
Wagner emphasized the ethos of “service leadership” he has adopted, which he said was an outgrowth of his having studied under Dr. Kent Farnsworth, who instilled in him the importance of emphasizing the concept of service as espoused by Robert Greenleaf.
Brady said, “I think Roger with this servant leadership style, his passion, his knowledge – he knew what he was getting into – wanted this opportunity and he prepared himself for it. I think he is the right person at the right time.”

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