Forum introduces chancellor finalists

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The public on Tuesday got its first look at four newly selected hopefuls vying to be Hawaii Community College’s next chancellor.

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The public on Tuesday got its first look at four newly selected hopefuls vying to be Hawaii Community College’s next chancellor.

About 40 people attended the all-day forum at the Manono Street campus — a chance for each candidate to field questions from the public and give people a chance to be part of the selection process. Today, candidates will convene at a similar open forum at the Palamanui campus in Kona.

“A forum is an essential part of the process … ,” said Kenoa Dela Cruz, chancellor search coordinator. “So that it’s not just those in the screening committee who have a say.”

Questions ranged from how candidates view HCC’s role in the University of Hawaii system to thoughts on boosting faculty morale. Some even touched on more lighthearted issues — such as how the applicants would cope with Hilo’s notorious rain.

Larry Buckley, 56, is president of Canada College in Redwood City, Calif. His résumé includes administration positions at several other California community colleges, which he touted to attendees as proof of his experience and knowledge of community college inner workings.

Buckley resided in Hawaii for several years as a child and has degrees from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Years ago, he taught history at Hawaii’s Leeward, Windward and Kapiolani community colleges.

He said he believes in an open-door policy with students and promised attendees he’d work to be a visible presence on campus.

“I’m a very transparent person,” he said. “ … You’re not going to wonder where I am.”

Micheal Glisson, 56, is vice chancellor for strategic initiatives at South Louisiana Community College in Lafayette, La. Previously, he was dean of health and nursing at an Arizona community college and a dean of health sciences in radiologic technology at a Massachusetts community college.

A native of Australia, Glisson said he is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was attracted to HCC’s “size and mix.” He said he’s not applying for the job to retire in Hawaii.

“I’m here to work,” he said.

He’s new to the Big Island and said his first move would be to “sit and listen and learn.”

“You can’t come to a place and roll down the street immediately,” Glisson said. “I’d take a period of time to understand … make connections and meet the key players.”

Anthony Munroe, 51, recently worked as president of Malcom X College, a two-year school in Chicago that lists itself as “the health care hub of City Colleges of Chicago.” Munroe worked for decades in health care administration, including as president and service area leader for three hospitals in Michigan and Illinois.

He told the Tribune-Herald his goal is “transforming lives” and he sees the HCC chancellor post as an opportunity to continue working in higher education.

“My first step would be getting to know the staff, faculty and students and spend time to hear not only their issues, their hopes and dreams, but to hear their heart,” Munroe said. “To understand what they’re really passionate about and what role I can play to help this situation to do its great work.”

Rachel Solemsaas, 50, is vice president for finance and administration services at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nev. She worked for decades in administrative roles at Seattle-area community colleges and has a master’s degree in public administration and a doctorate in higher education.

Solemsaas said she grew up in the Philippines but left as a young adult. She said her daughter attended college on Oahu. Solemsaas said she is passionate about sustainability and would work to “preserve the cultural aspects of Hawaii” and ensure Native Hawaiians have a say in decisions.

“They’ve got to have a voice in that process,” she said. “We need to provide a venue for that.”

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The public feedback will be sent this spring to the Board of Regents’ Vice President for Community Colleges John F. Morton, Dela Cruz said. The board likely will make a final vote shortly after — the new chancellor is slated to start July 1 and will replace interim chancellor Joni Onishi. HCC’s previous chancellor retired in 2015.

Email Kirsten Johnson at kjohnson@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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