RICHMOND, Va. — A new, permanent leader for Virginia’s 23 community colleges has been named, after new Gov. Glenn Youngkin asked that the hiring process be restarted and an interim head be appointed.
The State Board for Community Colleges on Thursday picked Russell Kavalhuna, president of Henry Ford College in Michigan, as the system’s next chancellor. He’ll succeed the retiring Glenn Dubois.
His appointment came after Youngkin criticized the appointment process as lacking transparency and failing to address the system’s needs, in particular workforce development. But the board said no wait was needed because Youngkin’s concerns had been addressed, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
Youngkin initially wrote a letter earlier this month to board Chair Nathaniel Bishop, saying the board had failed to collaborate with the administration.
Youngkin and Bishop conferred twice, but the governor requested more involvement. He still felt excluded from the decision-making process, he wrote in a second letter obtained by the newspaper.
“Our exclusion from your search process for the next chancellor was disappointing, and I strongly recommend that the selection committee appoint an interim chancellor and restart the process,” Youngkin wrote on Wednesday.
The board spent at least three hours in closed session Thursday before picking Kavalhuna, who was also a former federal prosecutor and commercial airline captain.
The governor believes the system hasn’t done enough to support workforce development to address the number of unfilled jobs in the state and to grow enrollment, according to Macaulay Porter, a Youngkin spokesperson.
“While there are outstanding individual schools, Virginia needs an entire system that supports all Virginians in the pursuit of gaining skills, furthering their academic goals and equipping them with the tools they need to succeed in an ever-competitive world,” Porter said.
In a letter to Youngkin on Thursday, the board said it had contacted the education and commerce secretaries soon after their appointments, and the selection committee added Jason El Koubi, interim president of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.
The transparency, administration input and business involvement that Youngkin sought was accomplished, the board said, so “therefore, there is no need to delay nor repeat the process.”