Governing board names new interim chancellor of MCCCD

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GLENDALE, Ariz – The Maricopa County Community College District Governing Board has appointed GateWay Community College President Dr. Steven Gonzales to the post of interim chancellor, Governing Board President Marie Sullivan announced in an email to employees Jan. 21.

The measure was approved by a 7-0 vote according to the email. Gonzales officially took office Jan. 25.

“We are fortunate that Dr. Gonzales has agreed to serve as Interim Chancellor. He is a well-regarded leader by his peers, the community and the district’s faculty and staff,” Sullivan said in the email. “He has the board’s full confidence to lead our system during this period of transition and as we search for a new chancellor over the coming months.”

Gonzales sent out an email to the district after assuming the position.

“It is an honor and privilege to have been asked by the governing board to serve as interim chancellor until a permanent leader is hired,” Gonzales said. “The potential of what our system can accomplish is exciting, and I’m humbled to have the opportunity to work alongside you as we continue to serve our students and community.”

According to the interim chancellors’ email, Gonzales has served as president of GateWay Community College for the past seven years and has worked in higher education for over 20 years. From 2011-2013 Gonzales worked as the acting associate vice president of academic affairs and chief academic officer for the Pinal County Community College District.

Gonzales has named Dr. Maria Wise to the interim president position at GWCC, starting Jan. 30 according to an email from the interim chancellor’s office.

The college president and District Leadership team also sent out an email voicing support for Dr. Gonzales.  Maricopa Community College Faculty Association President Keith Heffner welcomed Dr. Gonzales during the Faculty Executive Council’s general update for the Jan. 28 governing board meeting.

“Congratulations to Dr. Gonzales on his appointment as interim chancellor, faculty leadership had our first meeting with Dr. Gonzales yesterday, and we believe we are off to a great start, it was a really great meeting, we appreciate it,” Heffner said.

Gonzales is replacing former chancellor Dr. Maria Harper-Marinick, who announced in September her intention to move on from MCCCD when her contracts ends in May. According to an email sent to MCCCD staff Jan. 17, Governing Board President Marie Sullivan announced that Harper-Marinick would take administrative Leave from Jan. 25 to the end of her contract May 4.

Earlier in 2019, Harper-Marinick received a vote of “no confidence” from the Maricopa Community Colleges Faculty Association.

With Harper-Marinick exiting, a  search committee was established in October 2019 to find a permanent replacement and has been working with search consulting firm “Diversified Search” to recruit qualified candidates. The  committee includes faculty, staff and administration from around the district, including Glendale Community College President Dr. Teresa Leyba Ruiz. It also includes Arizona State University Senior Vice President Dr. Christine Wilkinson, Tolleson Union High School District Superintendent Nora Gutierrez and members of the Phoenix business community.

The committee is chaired by Governing Board Member Dr. Linda Thor, and vice chaired by Governing Board Member Kathleen Winn.

Thor said in an email that the search committee has placed advertisements in national publications read by higher education and community college leaders to find qualified candidates.

According to a search timeline posted to the district’s website, advertisement of the position and recruitment is underway until Feb. 12. After that deadline, the pool of candidates will be presented to the committee. In March, the committee will interview candidates and recommend finalists for further interviews.

In April, the final candidates will participate in open forums and have final interviews. The board will look to select and announce the new chancellor by May.

When reached out to with a request for an update on the search, Vice Chair Winn declined to comment, stating that “Most of the work of the search committee is confidential as we are still accepting applications for the permanent position.”