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Two finalists but no winner in SFCC’s presidential search; decision postponed a year

UPDATED: Wed., May 9, 2018, 10:28 p.m.

Nancy Fair-Szofran, the acting president of Spokane Falls Community College, will continue in that role until July 2019, school officials said Wednesday. (Courtesy of the Community Colleges of Spokane)
Nancy Fair-Szofran, the acting president of Spokane Falls Community College, will continue in that role until July 2019, school officials said Wednesday. (Courtesy of the Community Colleges of Spokane)

After a year of rapid leadership turnover, officials have passed over two candidates for president of Spokane Falls Community College and postponed the selection process by another year.

Nancy Fair-Szofran has served as SFCC’s acting president since February, when Darren Pitcher resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment. Pitcher had served as acting president for about eight months following the departure of Janet Gullickson, who resigned last summer to lead a school in Virginia.

In a decision announced Wednesday, Christine Johnson, chancellor of the Community Colleges of Spokane, turned down two people who had been vying to lead SFCC permanently: Darrell Cain, a vice chancellor at Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, and Barbara Hanson, who most recently served as chancellor of Louisiana Delta Community College.

Fair-Szofran, who was not in the running for the permanent job, will continue serving as acting president until July 2019, Johnson said in a news release.

“Both of the finalists are very talented, with excellent credentials and great ideas for how they would serve as the president of SFCC,” Johnson said. “However, during our selection process, it became clear many of our faculty and staff believe the college would be best served by postponing selection of a permanent president for a year to allow for renewal after numerous transitions.”

In a phone call Wednesday, Cain said he had no qualms about the selection process, which he described as fair and transparent. Cain had been looking for other jobs. On Monday, he was named the next president of Pierce College in Puyallup, Washington.

Hanson, who was also in the running to lead SFCC’s sister school, Spokane Community College, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Before she led schools in Louisiana, Texas and North Carolina, Hanson was a vice president at North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene, where she drew criticism for her administrative style and changes she had proposed to the college’s departmental structure. She resigned and took a lower-level position in May 2007 after a no-confidence vote by the faculty assembly, then left NIC in 2008.

When Hanson announced in June 2016 that she would resign from Louisiana Delta Community College, she said in a statement that she was doing so because she wanted to spend more time with her grandchild in Arizona. She left the Louisiana college system in April 2017, according to LinkedIn.

Fair-Szofran joined the CCS system as provost in 2012. Before that, she was a library dean and vice president at Mt. Hood Community College in Oregon.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Northeast Missouri State University, a master’s in library and information science from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a doctorate in education from the University of Idaho.

Carla Naccarato-Sinclair, president of the CCS faculty assembly, did not respond Wednesday to a message seeking comment.


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