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Roxbury Community College has four on list for chief

Roxbury Community College said Friday that it had narrowed the field of candidates to become the school’s next president to four veteran outside ­educators.

The finalists, who will visit the campus this month, are current or former community college presidents.

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The former RCC president, Terrence Gomes, stepped down last summer, and Governor ­Deval Patrick replaced most of the school’s 11-member board of trustees amid federal and state investigations into mismanagement of campus finances and a failure to properly investigate allegations of sexual assaults.

A report — prepared at the college’s request by Wayne Budd, a former federal prosecutor, and released by the college two weeks ago — detailed systematic lapses over the past decade by current and former administrators.

The school’s board has promised several reforms in ­response to the report. The new president will decide whether administrators who are accused in the report of mismanagement will keep their jobs.

Kathy Taylor, chairwoman of RCC’s board, said the new leader’s arrival will be a key step in the institution’s efforts to rebuild.

“You have a brand new board that’s fired up and ready to go,” Taylor said. “You’ll soon have a brand new president that’s fired up and ready to go. And we have the Budd report that tells us what we need to do, and we’ve made changes based on that already. This is the first time in a long time that we feel really hopeful.”

A committee composed of about 15 people — including faculty, students, administration, board members, and community members — began a ­national search for president in late October and met every two weeks to narrow a field of more than 60 applicants, officials said.

The four finalists bring an impressive array of experience and talents, college officials said. “They all have a track record of making change, and change at community colleges that were struggling to some ­degree,” said Mark Culliton, chairman of the search committee.

The four finalists are:

  Alex J. Kajstura, president of the Northwest Campus of Pima County Community College District in Arizona. He has worked in higher education for nearly 30 years, including as a provost at Tidewater Community College in Virginia and Daytona State College in Florida. Kajstura also taught at John A. Logan College in Illinois and Northeast Texas Community College.

  Valerie R. Roberson, vice president of academic affairs at Joliet Junior College in Illinois. Roberson has worked in higher education for nearly 30 years, including as president of Olive-Harvey College in Chicago.

  George Santiago Jr., president of Briarcliffe College in New York. Santiago has worked in higher education for nearly 20 years, including administrative positions at Rutgers University, Rider University, ­Montclair State University, and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  Evon Walters, chief executive of the eastern campus and the culinary arts facility of ­Suffolk County Community College in New York. Walters has worked in higher education for nearly 20 years, including in administrative positions at Montgomery County Community College in Pennsylvania, Onondaga Community College in New York, Olivet College in Michigan, Clark University in Worcester, and as a researcher at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Taylor said Linda Turner, the college’s interim president, took that position knowing she would not be considered to ­become the full-time president. The new leader will be ­selected by late April or early May and start the job by early July, Taylor said. The board’s pick will go ­before the state’s higher education board for final approval.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at mjrochele@gmail.com.
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