President ValdezApr 30, 2014 By Steven R. Peck
CWC conducted a thorough, fair hiring process for its new leader
Central Wyoming College has its man.
It's been a long time since our community college has had to hire a president. Not a single member of the 2014 board of trustees was in office the last time this took place, and most of CWC's current student body was not born when the college hired Jo Anne McFarland to be president in 1989.
None of that kept the college from conducting a fair, thorough, transparent and trustworthy hiring process that culminated Tuesday night in the announcement that Dr. Cristobal Valdez of Ohio will replace McFarland in 60 days.
Certainly there was an element of surprise to the decision. Many had expected the college to promote from within by naming Dr. Jason Wood, CWC's second in command, to the president's chair.
There is no question that Wood is "presidential material," and there is every expectation that he will become a college president one day. That he was not hired for CWC's top job in no way reflects poorly on him. College trustees, fellow administrators and faculty members made that point emphatically at Tuesday's meeting, which Wood attended.
Rather, it is a reflection of the formal hiring process, which the college needed to go through for a number of reasons tied to credibility and accountability. There is a way these things are supposed to be done, and CWC adhered to the procedure that is expected of public institutions.
It announced the coming vacancy, invited applicants, used an outside consultant to assist with the vetting process, and narrowed the field.
It identified three finalists, each of whom agreed to be named publicly. There was a public forum for all three, open to anyone who wanted to attend, complete with questions and answers from the audience.
Finally, it weighed the pros and cons of the three, deliberated carefully, assembled the public and announced its decision.
Even when a public institution has an inside candidate clearly qualified for a position, it still goes through the formal process so the public can have confidence that the decision was made responsibly.
There's more to it than that. The process also is intended to produce the best possible person for the job. The outcome ran counter to the expectations of some, but there is every reason to rest assured that our elected trustees conducted the search properly and chose responsibly.
The CWC trustees feel they have found the right person in Valdez. By all indications, the hiring was conducted with integrity, which is what the community demands and deserves -- and which is exactly what it got.
Congratulations to Dr. Cristobal Valdez, the next president of Central Wyoming College.