EvCC trustees choose Chemene Crawford as next president

Crawford is the current leader of North Seattle College. She was one of three finalists for the post.

Chemene Crawford (Everett Community College)

Chemene Crawford (Everett Community College)

EVERETT — Chemene Crawford, who has led North Seattle College the past three years, agreed Friday to become the next president of Everett Community College.

The college’s Board of Trustees met early Friday and voted unanimously to offer Crawford the job.

Chair Toraya Miller then left the virtual meeting to phone Crawford. She returned moments later and announced Crawford accepted subject to negotiation of a contract.

Crawford, in a statement, said she was “elated and deeply honored” and called the EvCC “is a beacon in the community and where many of our citizens come to create opportunity and change their lives. I look forward to working with the community to assure that those who come to us can indeed ‘Stay Close and Go Far.’”

Crawford was one of three finalists for the post. The others were Kerry Levett, a vice president for student learning and success at Cascadia College in Bothell, and Rachel Solemsaas, the chancellor of Hawaii Community College, which is part of the University of Hawaii system.

“The board was faced with a real difficult decision with a very competitive candidate pool,” said Trustee Betty Cobbs, who led the presidential search effort.

Trustees cited Crawford’s passion, approachability, consensus-building talents and commitment to the community college system as reasons she emerged as their top choice.

Crawford, a Lynnwood resident and mother of two grown children, said in an interview she’s looking forward to leading the college for “as much time as they will have and I will have them. I’m prepared to do the work and stay.”

She said she’ll spend the first few months talking with students, staff, faculty and community leaders to get a benchmark of “where we are in all things.”

Community colleges face multiple challenges such as declining enrollment and evolving expectations following the pandemic, she said.

“We need to figure out where we are at and what the community needs” and what we need to rebuild, she said. The trustees “are ready. Everett Community College is ready to move forward.”

Crawford will be the college’s 18th president. She will oversee an operation with an annual operating budget of $75 million. It serves more than 15,000 students and employs more than 800 people, of which 134 are full-time faculty and 240 are part-time faculty.

The last president, Daria Willis, left in December 2021 to helm Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland. Darrell Cain has been the interim president since March 2022 on a contract that runs through Aug. 31.

Crawford said she may start as early as July 1 but the exact date will be decided in contract talks. The salary range for the position is $225,000 to $282,000, per the original job posting.

Crawford has been president and chief executive officer of North Seattle College since June 2021. Before that she served a year as interim president at the school that enrolled over 4,800 students in fall 2021.

She formerly held the post of Associate Vice Chancellor for the Dallas County Community College District in Dallas, Texas, and she worked for 10 years in the California Community College system.

Crawford earned a bachelor’s and master’s from the University of San Francisco and a doctor of education degree in Organizational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University in Florida.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dospueblos.

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