Tacoma Community College selects its next leader

Ivan Harrel

After a careful search that started last fall, Tacoma Community College’s Board of Trustees have selected Ivan Harrell, a doctor in philosophy and an executive vice president of academic and student affairs at Georgia Piedmont Technical College, as TCC’s 11th president. The Board made its official announcement at its meeting on Wednesday.

In a message from the Board on the TCC website, Harrell was described as “consistently demonstrating intellect, integrity, and passion.”

In a phone interview, Bob Ryan, chair of the Board of Trustees, said the search committee did an excellent job of bringing highly-qualified candidates forward.

“Any one of them would have done a fabulous job,” Ryan said. “(Harrell) seemed to fit the campus better in what he’s hoping to bring to the campus. He emphasized wanting to listen to what the campus constituencies wanted so we could work toward a common goal.”

Ryan said in Harrell’s previous experience he has shown an authentic passion for listening to constituents and for community colleges in general.

“He has shown through increasing levels of responsibility in his various jobs an ability to accomplish things,” Ryan said. “He has experience working on a national level. While we’re community focused, we have projects that are recognized nationally.”

Ryan gave credit to interim co-presidents Mary Chikwinya and Bill Ryberg for their steadfast leadership in the transition of the college over the past three years.

“I think Dr. Harrell will do a good job picking up the ball,” Ryan said.

Former TCC President Sheila Ruhland resigned in December 2016 after faculty expressed dissatisfaction in her performance to the Board of Trustees. Faculty blamed her partly for TCC’s probation after a deadline to submit required financial reports in June 2016 to the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities was missed under her watch. The report was finally submitted in August of the same year and the college remained accredited.

A start date for Harrell is something that is unknown at this point, Ryan said. This will be part of a discussion between the Board and TCC’s leadership team, composed of Chikwinya; Ryberg; Tod Treat, executive vice president of academic affairs; and Beth Brooks, vice president of human resources. Ryan said the latest Harrell would join TCC would be at the end of spring quarter in mid-June.

Once Harrell arrives to campus, a series of public meet-and-greet events will be coordinated.

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