Indiana leader tapped for LA Pierce College president job

A new president has been selected to lead Los Angeles Pierce College, the sprawling west San Fernando Valley community college campus that has been without a permanent leader for about a year.

Alexis S. Montevirgen is expected to be approved as the college’s new leader at the June 5 meeting of the Los Angeles Community College District’s Board of Trustees.

At 40, he would be among the youngest presidents to lead the 70-plus-year-old, 426-acre Woodland Hills college and its 22,000 students each semester.

“This is an exceptional opportunity and I’m ready to begin once the board confirms my appointment,” Montevirgen said in a district statement announcing Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez’ selection.

Montevirgen’s appointment was the culimination of a year-long, nationwide search that officials said garnered significant interest for the position, which pays a salary range of between $200,306 and $248,144 annually, according to a district job post.

Ultimately, Rodriguez said the candidate’s “credentials and experience” simply were the best aligned with Pierce’s mission as a two-year college that can successfully transfer students to four-year institutions.

Indiana leader tapped for LA Pierce College president job Los Angeles Pierce College class of 2018 commencement ceremonies at the college in Woodland Hills, Tuesday, June 5, 2018. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

That experience includes Montevirgen’s current job as vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management at Indiana University North, in Gary, Ind., a position he’s held since 2014.

He’s also worked in the massive California Community College District, where from August 2009 to 2014, he served as dean of enrollment services and as vice president student services.

Before that, he was director student life for the San Jose/Evergreen Community College District.

Montevirgen holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania and bachelor’s degree from U.C. San Diego. His doctorate in education was earned at San Francisco State University.

RELATED STORY: Next Pierce College leader should build ‘culture of trust,’ petition says

Montevirgen will fill the seat left by Kathleen Burke, who served as Pierce president since 2010, before leaving in 2018 to start her new job as chancellor of the South Orange County Community College District. Since then, Interim President Lawrence G. Buckley has successfully led the school, said Pierce spokeswoman Doreen J. Clay.

“He was a really remarkable person,” she said.

Buckley was at the helm when in November 2018 when 12 people were killed at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks. Pierce College students were present at the massacre during a “college night” promotion. Buckley communicated with the campus community on the status of any students affected and offered ways they could find and give support for the victims.

If he’s approved, Montevirgen will take over a campus that has been vocal about what they’d like to see in new leadership.

In May 2018, nearly three dozen faculty members, staff and students at Pierce have formally called for the next college president to be a consensus-builder with the broader campus community. A petition presented to Rodriguez urged him and the LACCD Board of Trustees to select a president who embodies Pierce College’s mission and values.

Among those values, students wanted more access and engagement amid a student-friendly environment that promotes learning and the freedom to think, dialogue and collaborate.

At the time, Mitra Hoshiar, a sociology professor, said she organized the online petition with a goal of promoting change on campus.

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“We are in desperate need of a unifying leader; a unifier that will bring the community, students, faculty, staff and administration together,” Hoshiar told the Daily News. “When I was working at Pierce in 2005, we were a family. … Now, you have many cliques. The campus is polarized.”

Some disputed that characterization, but Rodriguez accepted the petition, and said he wanted to select the best president possible.

In the announcement this week, officials made note of Montevirgen’s “commitment” to social justice, equity, access, retention and student success.

If Montevirgen’s nomination is approved by the board, that will make the tally “one down, one to go” in parallel searches for two L.A. Community College District colleagues in the San Fernando Valley that needed presidents.

The search is still underway at Los Angeles Valley College, said the district’s spokesman William H. Boyer. Valley’s former president, Erika A. Endrijonas, left last year to take the helm of Pasadena City College.



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