By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Virginia community college board of trustees is reinvigorating its search for a new chancellor because the Michigan official hired in March to lead the system no longer holds the position.
Russell Kavalhuna has instead opted to negotiate a deal aimed at his continued service as president of Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan, the Virginia Community College System said in a news release Monday.
“We are disappointed, of course,” said NL Bishop, chairman of the system’s board of directors, in the press release. “Russ is an exceptional educator and a leader in workforce development. We were looking forward to him joining us, but we respect his intention to stay in Michigan. We wish him good luck.
The development came after Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin criticized the recruitment process for the chancellorship as lacking transparency and failing to meet the needs of the 23-college system, which has seen declining enrollment.
Youngkin asked the board earlier this year to relaunch his search, but the group chose not to, announcing the hiring of Kavalhuna on March 17.
Youngkin’s spokeswoman, Macaulay Porter, confirmed in mid-May that the governor had met with Kavalhuna. But she declined to comment at the time on the background of the encounter. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Monday’s press release said the council was preparing to launch a national search to select the next chancellor. Sharon Morrissey, currently the system’s Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic and Workforce Programs, will serve as Acting Chancellor.
The leadership position needs to be filled as longtime Chancellor Glenn DuBois retires at the end of June.
Kavalhuna, also a former federal prosecutor and commercial airline pilot, declined an interview request sent through a spokeswoman for Henry Ford College.
Spokeswoman Rhonda DeLong provided a statement from the chairman of Henry Ford College’s board of trustees confirming that the institution is in talks with Kavalhuna to stay. These negotiations should be concluded by the end of June, according to the press release.
A VCCS spokesperson did not immediately respond to a question from the AP about whether the state owed Kavalhuna any financial payment.
Monday’s press release included a nod to Youngkin.
Douglas Garcia, who is expected to become chairman of the board in July, said the system is “eager to align our workforce training priorities with our governor’s goals for a more productive and prosperous Virginia. “.
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