Santa Paula Times

Trustees of the Ventura College District select new chancellor

June 18, 2004
Santa Paula News
Following a closed session meeting on Thursday morning, the Ventura County Community College District Board of Trustees announced the selection of the chancellor. “After careful consideration of all the candidates interviewed, we are pleased to announce that Dr. James Meznek has been selected as the new chancellor of the Ventura County Community College District,” said Cheryl Heitmann, president of the Board. “The Board feels confident that Dr. Meznek brings with him the skills and experience that our colleges need, not only for the present but to guide into the future as well.” Dr. James Meznek is current president/superintendent of Barstow College, and has been in that position since 1998. He arrived there as the school was struggling with budget and accreditation issues. To improve its status, Meznek worked with staff to create an all-inclusive participatory governance structure. At the same time, the college halted deficit spending and introduced multi-year fiscal planning. Currently the college has one of the healthiest budget reserves in the state.A product of the Michigan community college system, Meznek went on to receive a master’s from Wayne State University in Detroit and a Ph.D. in higher education leadership from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. His higher education administrative career spans 25 years, with leadership positions in California, Wyoming, and at the State Community College’s Chancellor’s Office in Sacramento. Prior to coming to Barstow, he was president of Century College in White Bear, Minnesota.The selection of Dr. Meznek completes a two-year process the Board has taken to select a chancellor for the three-college district. The chancellor’s position has been open for nearly two years. Retired Moorpark College President James Walker served as interim chancellor from June 2002 to June 2003. The district’s Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, Bill Studt, served as interim from July 2003 to the present.“We have been very fortunate to have two very good leaders assist the Board and the District while we completed our search for a permanent chancellor,” stated Heitmann. “On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we would like to thank Interim Chancellors Dr. Jim Walker and Bill Studt. Through Bill’s leadership the District has continued to survive the State’s budget cuts while maintaining services to the community.”A 28-member district-wide committee of faculty and staff members, students and community members reviewed 25 applications for the VCCCD’s chancellor’s position, met and interviewed eight candidates, and recommended the top five to the district’s Board of Trustees for interviews.
“The Board would like to thank the community members, students, district administrators, faculty and classified staff for the many hours of dedication to our Chancellor Search Committee,” said Heitmann. “This has been a long process and we want to thank all committee members, including those who served during our first recruitment.”Anticipated challenges for the new chancellor include dealing with enrollment growth, a third straight year of budget constraints, and multiple planning projects emanating from Measure S, the district’s $356 million bond measure approved by voters in March 2002.The Ventura County Community College District is a partner in the 109-campus California Community College system. The District’s three colleges, Moorpark, Oxnard and Ventura, have a combined enrollment of 33,000 and offer programs in general education for transfer to four-year universities, occupational and vocational fields, developmental programs, guidance assistance, community service and continuing education and provide opportunities to engage in co-curricular campus activities. The District Service Center is located in Camarillo.