Biographies of finalists for CCS chancellor
The background summaries that follow have been written from information provided by each candidate in his or her application packet. The candidates are Don Doucette, Eileen Ely, Christine Johnson, Linda McDermott and Luke Robins.
Senior vice president and provost for Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis, Ind. (2008-present), Doucette serves as chief operating officer for the singly accredited college, which has 23 campuses and more than 150,000 students.
Prior to Ivy Tech, Doucette was vice chancellor for education and technology at Metropolitan Community College, Kansas City, Mo. (1993-2008); associate director of the League for Innovation in the Community College, Mission Viejo, Calif. (1987-93); director of research, evaluation, and instructional development at Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kan. (1982-87), and coordinator of program development at South Mountain Community College (Maricopa Community Colleges), Phoenix, Ariz. (1981-82).
Doucette holds a doctorate in higher education and master’s in English from Arizona State University, Tempe, and bachelor’s in English from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. Between 1973 and 2007, he held 10 teaching positions with subjects ranging from English composition, developmental English, English as a second language to graduate courses on the American community college and the application of information technology in higher education.
Among special accomplishments, Doucette notes he led the establishment of the first community college in Haiti. He was awarded the Fernando Pedraza Humanitarian Award by St. John Chrysostom Episcopal Church in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., for leadership in service to the Latino immigrant community in southern Orange County; the B. Lamar Johnson Innovation in Leadership Award for helping develop the League for Innovation in the Community College from a $400,000 operation to a multi-million dollar enterprise, and the Dissertation of the Year (1984) by the American Association of Community Colleges.
Currently, Doucette co-chairs the Indiana Achieving the Dream State Policy Team and serves on the International Advisory Board, Indiana Concurrent Enrollment Partnership Advisory Committee and Community College Advisory Board, Educational Testing Service. From 2004-08, he was vice president and president of the Missouri Community College Association of Presidents and Chancellors Council, a member of the Accreditation Review Council of the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and member of the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education’s Committee on Transfer and Articulation.
His community service spans a broad spectrum of organizations including the boards of the Business and Technology Institute, Les Cayes, Haiti; Haitian Episcopal Learning Programs; Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Foundation, and the Kansas City Chapter of the American Red Cross. He also has been active in church, youth sports, youth center and school board activities. Doucette has authored and co-authored more than 21 articles and papers for professional journals, presented at more than 18 conferences and conventions, and provided consulting services for almost 40 corporations, colleges and other entities.
President of Western Nebraska Community College (2006-present), Eileen Ely serves as chief executive officer for the Scottsbluff, Sidney and Alliance campuses and the Harms Advance Technology Center. With an enrollment of more than 2,200 students, the college covers 12.5 counties and 17,000 square miles.
Prior to joining Western Nebraska Community College, Ely was campus dean (chief operating officer) for Laramie County Community College’s Albany County Campus in Laramie, Wyo. (2001-06) and co-author and assistant to the director of the National Institute of Staff and Organizational Development at the University of Texas at Austin (2000-01). She co-authored with John and Suanne Roueche a book titled “In Pursuit of Excellence: The Community College of Denver” (Community College Press, 2001) and article, “Challenges of the Heart: Pursing Excellence at the Community College of Denver” (Community College Journal, December 2000/January 2001).
In 1999, Ely was administrative intern in the office of the president at the Community College of Denver. Prior to that, she worked as a graduate student in the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas at Austin (1997-2000); graduate assistant in the College of Education, Professional Studies, at Iowa State University, Ames (1996-97); computer science adjunct instructor at Iowa Central Community College, Fort Dodge (1995); business instructor and financial aid counselor at Ilisagvik College, Barrow, Alaska (1994-95); assistant executive director, Veterans Independent Enterprises of Washington, Fife, Wash. (1993-94), and administrative assistant, Trade and Industry Division, Renton Technical College, Renton, Wash. (1990-91). Her earlier work experiences were in bookkeeping, programming, accounts payable and office management.
Ely holds a doctorate in education administration from the University of Texas at Austin, master’s in education from Iowa State University, bachelor’s in workforce education and development from Southern Illinois University and associate degree in business applications and information systems from ITT Technical Institute.
Among her accomplishments at Western Nebraska Community College, Ely notes she uses a transformational leadership style, which promotes and fosters teamwork, collaboration and goal-directed risk-taking without penalty.
Currently, Ely is president of the Twin Cities Development board and member of the Nebraska Community College Council of Chief Executive Officers, which she chaired in 2008-09; Community and Economic Development Committee; Regional Governance Committee; Chamber of Commerce government affairs committee; United Way board; WNCC Community Emergency Response Team, and Rotary.
Her previous professional and community service included leadership positions on the Laramie Chamber of Commerce and Laramie Economic Development Council, participation in Leadership Wyoming as well as hospital and university committees, and membership in Zonta, Colorado and Wyoming Association of Women in Education, and Kappa Delta Pi and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies. She also has been active in church, dance academy, parent/teacher club and swim team board activities.
Special assistant to the provost at the University of Colorado Denver (2008-present), Christine Johnson is interim director of the university-wide Latino Research & Policy Center in addition to assisting with special projects. Prior to this position, she was president of the Community College of Denver (2001-07), which serves 15,000 full-time-equivalent students annually and has six campuses, headquartered on the Downtown Auraria Campus shared with the University of Colorado Denver and Metropolitan State College.
Before that, Johnson was vice president for educational services (chief academic officer) at Colorado Community College and Occupational Education System (1998-2001), which is comprised of 13 system colleges, two local district colleges, Higher Education Advanced Technology Center and Colorado Community Colleges Online and serves more than 217,000 students annually.
While director of urban initiatives for the Education Commission of the States, Denver (1993-98), Johnson co-authored the development of excellence criteria for districts for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Education, Research and Improvement “District Recognition” Program. She also was executive director of K-12 education for Littleton Public Schools, Littleton, Colo. (1991-93); adjunct professor in the Department of Graduate Education at the University of Colorado Denver (1989-91); principal of Abraham Lincoln High School, Denver (1985-91); principal (1984-85) and Spanish and English teacher (1976-81) at Thomas Jefferson High School, Denver.
Johnson holds a doctorate in educational administration and supervision and master’s in curriculum administration from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and bachelor’s in secondary education from New Mexico State University, Las Cruces. Her post-doctoral fellowships include visiting scholar at Columbia University, Fordham University and the University of Texas at Austin Community College Leadership Program; Kellogg Fellow, League for Innovation in the Community College; Ambassador Swanee Hunt Fellow, Rocky Mountain Senior Executive Program Graduate School of Public Affairs, and Danforth Foundation Leadership Fellow.
Among achievements at Community Colleges of Denver, Johnson notes leading it out of a budget deficit while experiencing the greatest reduction in state funding in Colorado history, its rank among the top 13 two- and four-year higher education institutions in the country for high student success and retention in the first year of college, and its selection to represent the nation’s community colleges in a Public Broadcasting System documentary on the state of America’s higher education.
Johnson’s professional affiliations include the College Board National Commission on Community Colleges, Knowledge Works, Jobs for the Future, National Assessment Governing Board Special Commission to Study the 12th Grade; Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education; Alliance for Quality Teaching; National Commission on Workforce Development; Coca Cola Enterprise Council on School Business Partnerships; DOD Task Force, Workforce Development; Education Commission of the States Policy and Priorities Committee; Colorado State University, College of Applied Human Science board; and Colorado Commission on Higher Education.
Johnson’s civic participation and community leadership includes Catholic Charities, Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Museum of Nature and Science, Denver Foundation, Denver Health and Hospital Authority, and Latin American Educational Fund.
Among more than a dozen selected presentations Johnson lists are “K-16 Collaboration”, “Governance and Accountability” and “School-Business Partnerships”. She also has presented to the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, and National Hispanic Corporate Council, and was a guest on Good Morning America regarding student incentives for learning.
Johnson was named to the College Board National Commission on Community Colleges, State Scholars Initiative Advisory Board and Lumina Foundation Policy Advisory Board. She was recognized as a Girl Scouts of America Woman of Distinction, Colorado Pioneer Honoree by the Hispanic Chamber as the first female Hispanic president in the state, and a Woman of Distinction by Mexico’s President Vincenté Fox.
As chief financial officer of Community Colleges of Spokane (2003-present), Linda McDermott is responsible for the multi-college district’s budget, financial services and reporting, risk management, public records requests and long-term financial planning. She also oversees district information systems and advises CCS Foundation management.
Previously at CCS, she was interim vice chancellor for budget and finance (2002-03), district director of budget and finance (1994-99, 2000-02), interim vice chancellor for human resources (1999-2000), manager of employee compensation (1991-94), and accounting supervisor (1989-91).
Prior to joining CCS, McDermott was an auditor/special agent with the Washington State Gambling Commission (1987-89) and an accountant with Irwin Research & Development, Inc. (1985-87). While with the gambling commission, she was recognized as the most productive special agent statewide.
McDermott is enrolled in Washington State University’s doctor of education program with emphasis in community college leadership; her dissertation defense is scheduled for summer/fall 2011. She holds a master’s and bachelor’s in business administration from Eastern Washington University.
A certified public accountant, McDermott annually completes an average of 40 hours of continuing professional education in technical and non-technical accounting, auditing, leadership and related subject areas. She is an alumnus of Leadership Spokane and also attended Theidore Fleidner Gymnasium in Düsseldorf, West Germany, as a Rotary International exchange student.
Among accomplishments at CCS, McDermott notes implementation of an inclusive budget process, negotiation of faculty collective bargaining agreements using interest-based bargaining strategies, and automation of numerous business processes to improve efficiencies and enhance services. Under her leadership, CCS fiscal processes and procedures have been commended by the Washington State Auditor’s Office and Federal Grant Program reviewers.
McDermott serves on the Washington State Community College Business Affairs Commission, which she chaired in 2008-09. She also has held leadership positions with the Northwest Inland Empire Chapter of the Association of Government Accountants; Washington State Budget Accounting and Reporting Council, and Washington State Payroll/Personnel Management System Users Group.
Her other professional memberships include the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and National Association of Government Accountants. In addition, McDermott is board treasurer for Girl Scouts, Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho; treasurer, Spokane Dawgs Basketball Club, and classroom volunteer at All Saints Middle School. She has been a volunteer and involved in fundraising for Spokane Youth Sports Association and the Combined Fund Drive.
Chancellor of Louisiana Delta Community College (2006-present), Luke Robins serves as chief executive officer of the newest community college, serving 1,600 students, in the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.
Prior to his current position, Robins was executive vice president (2005-06) and vice president for instruction (2000-05) at National Park Community College, Hot Springs, Ark.; dean of instruction at Eastern Idaho Technical College, Idaho Falls (1997-2000); administrative intern at El Centro College, Dallas County Community College District, Texas (1995), and coordinator of student outcomes assessment (1993-94) and the writing center (1991-94) at Laramie County Community College, Cheyenne, Wyo.
In addition, Robins taught “History of the Two-Year College” at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (fall 2003), English and speech at Laramie County Community College (1986-97), and numerous subjects including developmental English, composition, literature and interpersonal communication at Madisonville Community College, Madisonville, Ky. (1983-86). He was active in instructional councils and committees regarding college master planning, accreditation, student assessment, faculty evaluation and program development.
Robins holds a doctorate in educational administration from the Community College Leadership Program, University of Texas at Austin; master’s in English from the Community College Program, Illinois State University, Normal, Ill., and bachelor’s from Wheaton College, Wheaton, Ill. He also attended the Future President’s Institute at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2003) and Association of Community College Trustees Leadership Institute in Denver (2003), and is an alumnus of Leadership Idaho Falls.
Among his accomplishments at Louisiana Delta Community College, Robins notes providing learning-focused executive leadership for a college growing by 15 percent to 25 percent per semester; enhancing collaborative efforts among higher education, K-12 and local business and industry; providing oversight and input on state purchase of land for the new campus, and assisting with securing $45 million in bond sales for construction of the new campus. He was recognized as an Outstanding Administrator nominee by the National Council of Instructional Administrators and served as vice president and president of the Arkansas Dean’s Association.
Robins is on the boards of the Oachita Economic Development Council and Greater Monroe Chamber of Community Commerce and is a member of Monroe Rotary Club. He held leadership positions on the Focus Garland County community planning activity, Idaho Falls Higher Education Advisory Council and Curt Gowdy Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Cheyenne, Wyoming. He also has been a YMCA youth basketball coach and American Youth Soccer Organization soccer referee/coach. Among the dozen professional presentations Robins has made are “Making Sense of Cultural Sensemaking: Understanding Values and Change” and “Working with Non-Traditional Students.”