Three finalists announced in search for community college district leader

Daily Post Staff Writer

Three veterans of higher education are vying for the job of San Mateo County Community College District chancellor, including one familiar face.

Current interim chancellor Mike Claire, who has been working for the district since 1988, has held various positions at all three colleges in the district, and attended Canada College in Redwood City. Claire was president of College of San Mateo before being selected as the interim chancellor after longtime chancellor Ron Galatolo was removed from his position in August.

Claire is a registered CPA and has worked over the years to expand the police training academy at CSM to improving the Middle College High School program, an alternative high school program at CSM, among other program additions and expansions in the district.

Dr. Edward Bush is the president of Cosumnes River College in Sacramento. Bush has been president of the college of about 14,000 since 2015. Prior to that he was a faculty member and later held multiple administration roles at Riverside Community College District. He has been working in higher education for 22 years.

Bush is also an active academic, having published two books and multiple book chapters and journal articles, he also says in his biography statement that he is a sought after speaker on issues relating to equity, student success, diversity and leadership.

Dr. Bryan Reece is the third applicant for the position. Until June, he was the president of Norco College in Riverside, part of the Riverside Community College District.

Reece was fired by the Riverside Community College District’s board, even though students, professors and others testified for over three hours, urging the board to keep him, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

No official reason for Reece’s firing has been given, but Reece’s supporters told the Press-Enterprise that they think he was fired because the college district’s chancellor did not like Reece pushing for his college to receive equal treatment compared to the other two colleges in the district.

Reece has worked in higher education for 30 years, and as Norco’s President worked on improving the college’s high school education program, created a program to enroll inmates at a nearby prison and expanded the college’s veteran education program, according to his biography. He was also an administrator at Cerritos College and Crafton Hills College, both in southern California.

Both Bush and Reece have been listed in other articles as finalists for either college presidents or district chancellors recently.

One of these three finalists will replace Galatolo as chancellor.

No reason has come from the college district as to why the board decided to remove Galatolo, but the separation agreement between the district and Galatolo says that “disputes arose between the (district and Galatolo) regarding their employment relationship,” which was taken to mediation before retired Judge Richard Kramer on Aug. 7, just a few days before the district announced that Galatolo was fired.

The Post reported on Aug. 24 that the San Mateo County District Attorney’s office has executed search warrants at the college district in connection with Galatolo. District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said his staff is looking into allegations of harassment and improper handling of construction contracts. The DA’s office is still looking into allegations against Galatolo.

The college district’s search committee will hold candidate forums for the public next week. It is unclear how the public will participate in the forums given the social distancing rules that are in place due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Final interviews of the three candidates are set for the week of April 13.