Campos named president

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By David Giuliani

In a widely expected decision, the Luna Community College Board of Trustees named Las Vegas City Schools Superintendent Pete Campos as the school’s new president.

The board voted 6-0 in favor of Campos, with Trustee Levi Alcon abstaining. The trustees must still negotiate a start date and salary for Campos, who is also a state senator.

Campos couldn’t attend the meeting because the City Schools board meeting was at the same time, but he got word of the decision through a text message.

He was one of five finalists, having been added last month after another top candidate dropped out. He had entered his name in the process later than the other applicants.

The other finalists were Dan Chacon, vice president at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, California; James Alarid, a Highlands University professor and leadership program director; Hans Kuss, former president of Maysville Community College in Kentucky; and former Highlands president Sharon Caballero.

The decision to select Campos was made quickly, with Trustee Jerry Maestas motioning for Campos’ appointment and Trustee Kenneth Flores seconding it. Alcon, who abstained from the vote, later said he had some concerns with the search process.

During a break in the meeting, Ambrose Castellano, the board’s chairman, noted that the vote for Campos was unanimous, with the exception of Alcon’s abstention.

“Maybe now the community college can move in a positive direction and the employees can be at ease,” he said.

He said he was impressed with three candidates during the interview process -- Campos, Alarid and Chacon. He said he particularly liked how Campos’ presentation was so informative and that he appreciated his answers.

Campos said last week that he had never broken an employment contract and that his City Schools agreement expires June 30. Interim President Sigfredo Maestas, who originally expected to leave by November, may be serving through June. Maestas, a former president of Northern New Mexico Community College in Espaola, came out of retirement in July to take the interim position and had no interest in having the permanent job.

After the City Schools board found out about Campos’ selection, member Ramon “Swoops” Montao called on his colleagues to schedule meetings outside of regular business to discuss the search for a new superintendent. The other members agreed.

Campos told the board that there is an opportunity to further expand the relationships between the local school districts and Luna Community College.

“This is an exciting time in Las Vegas. We can come up with an education system second to none,” he said.

Campos, who received his doctorate in education a few years ago, has been an administrator in the Las Vegas City Schools for 14 years, the last four of which as its superintendent. The former Santa Rosa mayor has represented Las Vegas in the state Senate since 1991.

Luna’s presidency became vacant in the fall of 2006 with the sudden exit of Leroy “Huero” Sanchez. The board named academic dean Gilbert Sena as interim president, but he, too, left under mysterious circumstances and later convinced the school to pay $5,000 of his legal bills.

Not long after the board formed a search committee in the summer, the committee’s chairman, Jesus Lopez, who was also Luna’s attorney, resigned both positions, contending the search was a “farce.” He said at least three of the board members had a candidate in mind, but he didn’t identify the person.

Recently, Lopez, who has considerable influence over Las Vegas politics, endorsed Campos as the best candidate for president.