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New provost, MOU pushes Compton further down road to independence


ComThe hiring of a new permanent Provost/Chief Executive Officer to head the two-year school and new contract between Compton Community College District and El Camino College District, is putting the campus further down the road to regaining accreditation as an independent campus of higher education.

Lawrence M. Cox, the new provost who assumed control of the daily operations of El Camino College Compton Community Education Center on July 1, was most recently provost of Stark State College of Technology in Ohio. He was also one of three finalists selected by a nation-wide recruitment conducted by a search firm in conjunction with a search committee from the Compton Center. This committeewas comprised of representatives of faculty, students, staff, administration and the Compton college district.

Cox has more than 25 years of academic experience and leadership background including serving as president of community colleges in Chicago and Memphis. He has a bachelor’s degree in education, a master’s in educational psychology and a doctorate in sociology all from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

He is also a graduate of the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard Graduate School of Education, and has participated in the Yale School of Management for Leadership as well as the American Association of Community Colleges Leadership Academy.

Cox replaces Doris P. Givens, who served as interim provost since 2006, when Compton Center was established by an agreement between the El Camino and Compton community college districts.

The agreement followed the withdrawal of accreditation of Compton College by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior College (AACJC) in 2006.

According Peter Landsberger, the state-appointed special trustee overseeing the Compton Community College District (a separate and distinct entity from the college), hiring Cox is a “big milestone” that will help provide the stability the school needs to satisfy the accrediting committee.

“He’s already demonstrated that he is eager to get out into the community. The first day on the job he went and was introduced to the Compton City Council, and he wants to get around to all the city councils and public groups in the district,” said Landsberger, adding that getting community buy-in and understanding of the common goal will help move forward the agenda of regaining accreditation.

The special trustee said another key duty for the new provost will be to get out into the corporate sector.

“. . . He needs to make the case that they need to invest in the future of a new college in Compton; that it’s in their interest that a strong and viable (school) exist. We also (want to inform them) that we are also able to meet their need for well-qualified potential employees.”

Landsberger said the district has set a goal of getting to candidate for accreditation by 2010 or 2011, and from there it is at least a two-year process.

Meanwhile, the Compton district has signed another memorandum of understanding with El Camino that extends the partnership indefinitely.

One of the critical events that the special trustee believes will give Compton important feedback on their progress in the eyes of the ACCJC is an upcoming review of El Camino this fall. The accrediting team will visit the El Camino Compton Center as part of this process.

Landsberger emphasized that Compton is a unit of El Camino College, and when the school believes that the center is ready will submit it as a candidate for accreditation. Once accreditation is received, El Camino will immediately transfer jurisdiction to the Compton Community College District, a move which must be approved by the AACJC.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the accrediting commission, Landsberger said Compton College must also satisfy the state Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) that it can function as an independent body complete with all of the financial, administrative and educational controls needed.

This includes having a functioning and independent board of trustees and all administrative positions filled with permanent and highly capable as well as committed people, which has been a challenge because of the complicated governance structure at the college, , acknowledged Landsberger.