Polk State Relies on College and Community Partners to Assist in the Search for the Next President

Posted on by Polk Newsroom

For over 50 years, Polk State College has demonstrated its commitment to high-quality, affordable, and accessible education options for all Polk County residents. As the College embarks on the search for its fifth president, it comes as no surprise that a critical component of that search will include the participation of an esteemed and diverse screening committee, representative of the whole of Polk County.

While the Polk State College District Board of Trustees (DBOT) is ultimately responsible for appointing the next president, the presidential search screening committee serves a very valuable role in the evaluation and recommendation of the final shortlist of candidates for consideration. The committee members’ commitment to this process speaks to their interest in the future of Polk State College and the College’s role in the future of Polk County. Their dedication to a highly engaged and transparent process ensures that the DBOT will be presented with the most qualified candidates from which to choose the College’s next president.

The first meeting of the 22-member presidential screening committee was held yesterday, and committee members shared their excitement and enthusiasm.

Kim Long, Executive Director of Polk Vision, stated:

“It is an honor to be among those community members chosen to serve on the screening committee.  Drawing upon the dynamic leadership and accomplishments of Dr. Holden and her team over the last decade, we are well-positioned to continue the forward momentum.  I am excited about the future for this institution and confident the committee will find the right person to continue leading us in achieving the shared vision for the future of Polk State College.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by Polk State College Faculty Senate President Bill Caldecutt.

“There is a tremendous sense of responsibility that comes with being on the committee that will seek Dr. Holden’s successor. I am honored to represent the Faculty Senate in this process, and am pleased to serve alongside five dedicated faculty members who are active leaders at the College. Polk State’s faculty are committed to shared governance at our institution, and embrace the opportunity to participate in the selection of a new president who will perpetuate the inclusive, energetic, and human atmosphere that has become Dr. Holden’s legacy,” he said.

Of great importance to the committee is the selection of candidates who have the ability and vision to address current and future education and workforce needs. In particular, the committee stressed the importance of a leader who is committed to building a dedicated talent pipeline that will ensure residents can remain in Polk long after they finish their studies.

Sean Malott, CEO of the Central Florida Development Council Inc., values a commitment to workforce collaboration and active encouragement for new businesses establishing in Polk County as important attributes of  the next president of Polk State.

“Our relationship with Polk State College has been a distinguishing factor for businesses choosing to relocate or expand in Polk County,” Malott said. “We are honored to be selected to represent the business community on this screening committee. It is together that we can continue to elevate our workforce opportunities and drive economic success for our county.”

Collaboration is at the heart of all that John Ruffin, President of the Concerned Citizens of Polk County, wants to see in the next president.

“I had the great fortune of serving on the presidential screening committee that selected Dr. Eileen Holden back in 2006,” he said. “What was important then, and has been elevated now, is a strong relationship and a shared purpose between our organization and Polk State. Further, my hope is that the next president will continue to build upon the intentional work that we have collectively undertaken with regards to diversity, talent recruitment, and enrollment.”

An essential component of the committee includes full student engagement. With this purpose, the committee includes Polk State Student Government Association President, Gonzalo Gutierrez.

“I am so excited to be a part of this committee,” he noted. “It is an honor to serve as the voice of the students of Polk State. We value the relationship that we have had with our president and want to ensure that whomever is selected next will continue to put students at the forefront of his or her administration.”

Polk State College is grateful for the presidential search committee’s passion and commitment to the presidential search process. Members’ participation ensures that the DBOT will receive presidential candidates for consideration who are a good fit for the College, and who best exemplify the statement: We are Polk.

For more information about the presidential search process and to see the complete list of screening committee members, visit polk.edu/presidential-search.