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Board chairman begins contract negotiations with Laurie Chesley to become COCC's new president.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Dr. Laurie Chesley

Central Oregon Community College has named Dr. Laurie Chesley as its top choice to become the college's new president.

The COCC Board of Directors voted Feb. 22, to authorize college board Chairman Laura Craska Cooper to negotiate a contract with Chesley, and to send a team of college representatives to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to visit faculty, staff and students at Grand Rapids Community College, where Chesley works.

Chesley is the provost and executive vice president for academic and student affairs at GRCC. She taught English at a variety of higher education institutions for 14 years, including five years of full-time teaching at Northwestern Michigan College.

She has 18 years of administrative experience, including as interim dean of learning at Northwestern Michigan, assistant vice president for academic affairs at Ferris State (Michigan) University, dean of humanities at Montgomery County (Pennsylvania) Community College, and then associate dean and dean of arts and sciences at Grand Rapids Community College, before becoming vice president in 2015.

Chesley was one of three candidates who interviewed for the position earlier this month. The other candidates were Dr. Kimberlee Messina, former president of Foothill College in California, and Dr. Tod Treat, interim vice president for instruction at Wenatchee Valley College in Washington.

"We were fortunate to have such an outstanding group of candidates from which to choose," Craska Cooper said. "Nearly everyone who met with the candidates said they would be comfortable with any of the three. After conducting the interviews and then listening to the reports we heard on Saturday, though, all of the members of the board have agreed that Dr. Chesley is our top choice," she said.

"Dr. Chesley stood out as the right president for COCC in part because of her commitment and focus on student success, fiscal responsibility and workforce training," she added. "She also demonstrated an impressive knowledge of our college and our community, indicating she had clearly done her homework. We were impressed."

Craska Cooper said she is confident that both the campus visit and the contract negotiations will go smoothly, and that the board can formally conclude the search in the next two weeks.

For more information, contact Ron Paradis, executive director of college relations, at 541-383-7599.

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