CR Names Three Finalists for President



A week ago College of the Redwoods announced that it was just one step away from losing accreditation. Today CR announced the three brave finalists for the president/superintendent position left vacant by Dr. Jeff Marsee. Interim president Uptal Goswami is among the candidates.

Public forums with the candidates will take place Feb. 14, 15 and 16. Here's the press release from CR:

Three candidates have been selected as finalists for president at College of the Redwoods.

Then three finalists are Dr. Utpal K. Goswami, Kathryn G. Lehner and Dr. Patrick Schmitt.

The candidates will be interviewed by the CR Board of Trustees and each will participate in separate public forums on the Eureka Main campus. They will all be held in the Forum Theater, Forum Building 103. They will take place from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. The community is invited to attend.

Kathryn Lehner will be first on Tuesday, Feb. 14.  Utpal Goswami's forum will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 15 and Patrick Schmitt will be on stage on Thursday, Feb. 16.

A 16-person search team - comprised of community members, students, faculty staff, administrators and three representatives from the CR Board of Trustees - selected the three individuals at the conclusion of interviews conducted at the CR Eureka Main Campus the week of March 30- Feb. 3.  The goal is to have a permanent president selected by the time of the CR Board of Trustees March meeting. 

CR has been without a permanent president since March 1, 2011.  On that day, the CR Board of Trustees accepted then-President Jeff Marsee's resignation and appointed  Goswami as the acting president and two weeks later as the interim president. Marsee left CR after two and a half years to become president/superintendent of San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, Calif. The following are the three CR presidential candidates.

The CR Permanent President Candidates

Dr. Utpal K. Goswami

Dr. Utpal K. Goswami is the current CR interim president/superintendent. He began working at CR on July 1, 2010 as the vice president of instruction.  He has been CR's interim president since March 2011. He simultaneously serves as the vice president of instruction.

Goswami earned a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Delhi, a master's degree in development economics from Boston University, a master's degree in economics from Southern Methodist University located in Dallas, Texas, and a doctorate in economics, also from Southern Methodist University.

Prior to coming to CR, Goswami served for four years as the vice president of instruction and provost at Yavapai College, a community college in Arizona. He was the dean of business, administration and instructional operations at St. Louis Community College in Meramec, Mo. for five years.

Goswami also served several administrative roles over an 11-year period at Schreiner University - a small, private university in Kerrville, Texas - as chair of the department of business administration, division chair/dean of the division of natural and professional sciences, and chair of institutional research.

Goswami was also a professor of economics and business administration, where he was promoted from assistant to tenured professor, as well serving as the director of internships at Schreiner University from 1987-2001. He was an assistant professor of economics from 1981-1985 at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.

Goswami has experience in institutional planning, budget development and management, program development and assessment, grants and fundraising, developing partnerships with the community, technology planning, staff and faculty development, and improving institutional working relationships and employee morale.

Goswami has written that, "As a creation of the community, community colleges must be sensitive and responsive to the needs of the broader community serves. In an environment of rapid structural changes, a community college is about the only educational institution that can respond with new programs and serves to meet the emerging needs."

Kathryn G. Lehner

Kathryn G. Lehner has served as the president/superintendent of Mendocino College, which has its main campus in Ukiah, from 2005 to the present.

Lehner earned a bachelor's degree in accounting at the University of Kansas and a master of business administration (MBA) at the University of New Mexico. She also completed educational theory and methods courses required for a secondary teaching certificate from St. Mary of the Plains College in Kansas.

Lehner served as the vice president of academic affairs at Mendocino College for two years before being appointed president. Prior to coming to Mendocino College, Lehner worked for nine years at Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs, Colo. At Pikes Peak she had these roles: associate vice president for educational services for two years; dean of the division of business education and military programs for five years; assistant dean of the division of business education; and an accounting faculty member for two years.

Lehner has worked as certified public accountant from 1978 to the present and worked in the private sector as a CPA for more than 10 years. 

In her statement of educational philosophy, Lehner wrote: "Although my philosophy of education has changed over the years I have experienced education from various perspectives (student, mother, teacher, administrator), the basic tenet of my beliefs remain the same: I believe that every individual has the right to an opportunity to achieve his/her maximum potential through access to higher education. As educators, we must look beyond the student success statistics reported to state entities and focus on the success of each student." 

Dr. Patrick Schmitt

Dr. Patrick Schmitt has served as the president of Pierce College Puyallup in the state of Washington since 2010.  It is one of a two-college district.

Schmitt earned a bachelor's degree in communication and theater from the University of Illinois-Chicago. He went on to graduate school at the same university studying American 20th Century theatre history. Schmitt earned a doctorate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison specializing in American 20th Century theatre and drama, dramatic theory and criticism. He also did graduate work for two and half years at the University of South Florida with an emphasis on instructional technology.

Prior to serving as president of Pierce College Puyallup, Schmitt was the chief executive officer and dean for four years at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha, a two-year liberal arts transfer campus that is part of the University of Wisconsin Colleges system.

He worked for six years at South Suburban College in South Holland, Ill., moving up from associate dean to dean and finally as the associate vice president of instruction. From 1993 to 1999 he served as a full-time faculty member in theater arts at Pasco-Hernando Community College in Brooksville, Fla. While at Pasco-Hernando, Schmitt served as the president of the academic senate. He also received a "Faculty Chair," a limited grant to study technology. Through this work, he helped establish the dean of technology position at the college.

In his educational philosophy statement, Schmitt wrote: "The foundation of ideas about education is an idea of human nature. I believe that fundamental to human nature is possibility. I think that people are capable of far more than they or others often think they are. People are like locked doors, waiting for the right key to open them to entire new worlds of knowledge and achievement. Education provides that key."

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