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Roxbury Community College to name new president by June


A decision on the next president of Roxbury Community College will be made in the next two weeks from among four finalists, all experienced college leaders from outside Massachusetts.

Mark Culliton, a RCC trustee who chairs the search committee, Tuesday said the new president is expected to be named before the end of May. The Board of Trustees recommends its candidate to the state Board of Higher Education, which can either ratify or reject that choice.

“I think we have great candidates, but we want to do the proper due diligence before recommending one of the four,” Culliton said.

The four finalists were identified in a national search. Each has visited the campus in Roxbury Crossing during the last month.

The finalists are: Alex J. Kajstura, president of the northwest campus of Pima County Community College District in Arizona; Valerie R. Roberson, vice president of academic affairs at Joliet Junior College in Illinois; George Santiago Jr., president of Briarcliffe College on Long Island in New York; and Evon Walters, chief executive officer of the eastern campus of Suffolk County Community College, also on Long Island.

Kajstura has led Pima County Community College for two years. The campus enrolls about 7,000 students, more than twice the 2,700 enrolled at RCC, and is classified as a Hispanic-serving institution by the federal government. Before becoming a central campus administrator, Kajstura held teaching and leadership positions in science and engineering departments.

Roberson arrived at Joliet Junior College, the nation’s first public community college, after serving for five years as president of Olive-Harvey College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago. Olive-Harvey’s student body is heavily African American, increasingly Hispanic and six times bigger than RCC’s. Roberson has been at Joliet since 2010 and has been a finalist for the top job at Midwestern community colleges.

For seven years, Santiago has been president of Briarcliffe College, a four-year, for-profit school that has three campuses. Briarcliffe is accredited by the same regional body as nonprofit colleges and works with local businesses to align its curriculum to their needs. Santiago formerly worked for the accrediting body, which assures colleges meet a range of academic and management standards.

Walters is the only finalist with direct ties to Massachusetts. He earned his degrees at UMass Amherst and worked as dean of multicultural affairs at Clark University in Worcester. Walters has led a campus of Suffolk County Community College with 4,000 students for six years.

Whoever is selected by the state Board of Higher Education will take over for interim President Linda Edmonds Turner, a former president of the Urban College of Boston.

Gov. Deval Patrick chose Turner last December after Terrence Gomes resigned as president last summer following reports of sexual assault allegations on campus that were not investigated and delays in distributing federal financial aid. Patrick also replaced most of RCC’s board, which was criticized for lax oversight.

Since it was established 40 years ago, RCC has periodically lapsed into mismanagement. Randolph Bromery, former chancellor of UMass Amherst, was brought in as interim president in 2002 to straighten out serious financial problems. He insisted on a role in hiring a permanent successor — Gomes in 2003 — whose leadership at RCC the late Bromery praised in an interview three years before Gomes’ resignation.

More than 60 people applied for the job as his permanent successor. Assisting RCC was Isaacson Miller, an executive search firm based in Boston, and Vice President Monroe “Bud” Moseley. He and the Board of Higher Education are conducting thorough background checks of the finalists, Culliton said.