A new chancellor may soon be selected after the NOCCCD Board of Trustees completes the interview process with the three finalists in review for the position. Each of the finalists answered questions from faculty, staff, students and community members in open forums on Nov. 4.

From left to right: Dr. Jack Kahn, Dr. Christopher Villa, and Dr. Byron Breland

From left to right: Jack S. Kahn, current assistant superintendent/ vice president of instruction at Palomar College. Christopher Villa, who most recently served as president at Portland Community College, Rock Creek Campus. Byron D. Clift Breland, current chancellor of the San Jose Evergreen Community College District. Photo credit: Christina Corona

What does the chancellor do?

The chancellor is the head administrator for the district and provides leadership for Fullerton and Cypress college, as well as North Orange Continuing Education.

A chancellor oversees all faculty and programs at a college. Aspects of the position include a four-year term, management of on-campus COVID-19 mandates, and decisions on which programs will be funded. All of which can impact students’ success.

Where do things stand in the search?

Interim Fullerton College President Gilbert Contreras moderated a limited in-person forum on the FC campus Thursday afternoon; a similar forum was held earlier in the day at Cypress College.

The NOCCCD Board of Trustees may reject any or all three candidates if they do not match the expertise they are in search for. Two previous finalists were rejected and caused the recruitment process to be extended.

Who are the finalists?

– Byron D. Clift Breland, current chancellor of the San Jose Evergreen Community College District.
– Jack S. Kahn, current assistant superintendent/ vice president of instruction at Palomar College.
– Christopher Villa, who most recently served as president at Portland Community College, Rock Creek Campus.

What occurred at the forum?

When asked how they would advance diversity, equity and inclusion strategies to increase enrollment, Kahn said, “Start a campaign so everyone knows who our student population is, and asking are we designed to support this population? Most of the time, we are not.”

Kahn provided examples of his successful relationship-building skills throughout his career in education and has worked with various diverse groups. He has recently worked with peers at Camp Pendleton and Marine University to convert Marine training to Community College curriculum.

Villa acknowledged data out of Fullerton College, which showed that many students lack the computers and webcams needed to perform in classes remotely, an issue he offered to address.

Breland is the only candidate to hold a chancellor position and called attention to his local experience in administration as the associate dean of student development at Santa Ana College. Breland praised NOCCCD’s leadership amongst California community colleges in successful student transfers to CSU.

Did any clear themes emerge during the forum?

Diversity, equity, inclusion, and the emergence from shutdown after the pandemic, were core themes from the forum. These themes reflected not only recent national events but events in the district as well.

Some of the district events include the vaccine mandate for students, faculty and staff, which some members of the community opposed.

As well as an incident in Spring 2021 when a Zoom lecture confrontation between a Cypress College student and professor over issues of policing and diversity went viral. This district event generated protests by some students, faculty and community members over how the college and district handled the issue.

Where can I view the forums?

The Fullerton College open forums are no longer available for viewing to the public.

What happens next?

The district website states that the Board, “Will make every effort to finalize the process and announce its decision shortly thereafter.”

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Christina Corona (She/Her) is a journalism major from La Habra, CA. In her free time, she likes to read, garden, and hang out with her cocker spaniel.

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Ryan Billings (He/Him) is an aspiring writer from Westminster, CA.