Pima Community College will relaunch its search for a new leader after its initial effort was botched by faulty background-checking.
The college's Governing Board voted unanimously Tuesday to fire one executive search consultant and hire another in hopes of staying on a schedule that calls for a new PCC chancellor to be in place by July 1.
The firm the board fired is Washington, D.C.-based R.H. Perry & Associates, which already has been paid more than $39,000 of the $59,000 PCC agreed to when the outfit was hired in June.
The firm, which promised to vigorously vet chancellor candidates, failed to detect potential problems in the background of Maria Sheehan, one of two finalists recently named for PCC's top job.
Sheehan was president of a California college from 2003 to 2007, when top officials there knowingly inflated the school's enrollment, overbilling the government for millions in state aid, a recent audit there found.
Auditors described the incidents at Desert Community College District in Palm Desert, Calif., as potentially fraudulent. The case recently was referred to a district attorney in California for "possible prosecution," state officials there said.
Sheehan, now president of Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nev., withdrew from the PCC search after the issue became public.
PCC board members were shocked to learn about the audit last week from an Arizona Daily Star reporter.
The matter should have come to light when finalists were vetted, board members said.
"Our search consultant was not on top of this," said board member Marty Cortez.
The search firm couldn't be reached for comment. Consultant Liz Rocklin, who oversaw the PCC chancellor search for R.H. Perry, didn't return two emails and a phone message left with a receptionist at the company's headquarters.
PCC's new consultant is the executive search arm of the Association of Community College Trustees, also based in Washington, D.C. That outfit submitted a $50,000 proposal in June to do the search but was passed over when the board hired R.H. Perry instead.
Although a second consultant is coming on board, the search effort won't start totally from scratch. Tuesday's board vote technically extends the time frame for the existing search rather than starting a new one.
That distinction will allow the one remaining chancellor finalist - Terrence Burgess of San Diego City College - to stay in the running if he chooses.
Burgess would keep his finalist status and compete against any other finalists identified during the renewed search process, board Chairwoman Brenda Even said.
Even said the board will check back in May to see whether the July 1 target date for having a new chancellor still seems realistic. If not, the board may have to rethink how to proceed, she said.
The college is looking for a permanent leader to replace former Chancellor Roy Flores, who retired last year for health reasons after eight current and former female employees accused him of sexual harassment.
Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 573-4138.
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