Orange Coast College’s Vice President of Instruction Kevin Ballinger has been named the college’s interim president while the search for a permanent candidate continues, complying with the Coast Community College District’s plan to keep the search and hiring process internal for the temporary position.
Ballinger’s appointment follows OCC President Dennis Harkins’ announcement in September that he will retire at the end of the fall semester after nine years at the college.
The district’s board of trustees voted unanimously to appoint Ballinger as interim president, which was announced at their regular meeting Nov. 7. According to district Chancellor John Weispfenning, the role was set to commence Feb. 1, but Ballinger will take on new responsibilities sooner.
Weispfenning said Harkins will be taking vacation leave so Ballinger stepped plans to step into the position Monday and will continue until a permanent replacement is found.
The interim president will not be considered for the permanent position in order to put candidates for the permanent position on equal footing, District Director of Public Affairs, Marketing and Government Relations Letitia Clark said in September. Clark has since left her position at the district.
“Kevin Ballinger has built a lengthy record of accomplishment at Orange Coast College as a student, faculty member, a dean and vice president,” Weispfenning said during the meeting. “For 34 years he’s served the college with distinction and good cheer and I’m looking forward to having him serve the campus in this larger role and to serve the district.”
A series of interviews were conducted for the positions, according to Ballinger, including with Weispfenning and the Board of Trustees.
Ballinger said his role as interim president is mainly to “make the college ready” for the next permanent president.
“There are a lot of other state initiatives that are going on that we need to keep the momentum on. Things like Guided Pathways and Assembly Bill 705 compliance and then a lot of building projects,” Ballinger said. “So it’s really to keep the college in good shape while we do the national search for a permanent president.”
He added that this academic year is an accreditation period for the college and that he is currently working on completing OCC’s self-evaluation for the accreditation.
“We have a deadline of this week to get that done, because it goes to the board of trustees at its next meeting. Once the board approves that, we send it off the accrediting agency and then late February they’ll send an entire team to the college to do an accreditation review,” Ballinger said. “It’d be nice to give the next president a fully accredited, no concerns report, which I’m anticipating.”
He said they anticipate the next president will be appointed “sometime soon” and that the ideal time for the transition would be summer 2019.
“It’s quite an honor because I was a student here at Orange Coast College back in the 1970s, so it’s really an unbelievable thing. It hasn’t really sunk in too much,” Ballinger said. “But to go from being a student to a teacher, to a dean and vice president — it’ll be nice for me to hold onto the college during these six months.”
The board also put forward former Huntington Beach Mayor Connie Boardman, nominated by Board Clerk Jim Moreno, to serve as a community member on the hiring committee which has been tasked with conducting a national search for OCC’s permanent president. Boardman was also a biology professor at Cerritos College for 24 years before stepping into the position of dean of science, engineering and mathematics.
“She has several years in higher education and she brings with her many years of understanding of higher education, administration and the selection process that we will be going through,” Moreno said.
District Director of Human Resources, Recruitment and Employment Services Shannon O’Connor-Escudero said once finalized, a list of representatives on the search committee will be posted to the district’s website under OCC’s presidential search tab.