By Kathy Chouteau
Contra Costa College is one step closer to having a new president. The Contra Costa Community College District recently announced three finalists for the position: Damon A. Bell, Ed.D., Tia Robinson-Cooper, Ed.D. and Tina Vasconcellos, Ph.D.
The first candidate is Dr. Damon A. Bell, who is currently serving as the interim president for Contra Costa College. Aside from having nearly 30 years of higher education experience in the community college and California State University systems, he has also served as interim president at Ventura College and as vice president for student services at Olympic, San Bernardino Valley and San Diego Mesa colleges.
Some of Dr. Bell’s community-focused work includes being a Rotarian, a life member of the NAACP and having served on several foundation boards. Additionally, he was president for the Washington State Student Services Commission, as a Guided Pathways Change Facilitator for the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges and on numerous state-wide committees and taskforces.
Dr. Bell earned an associate degree from Los Angeles Harbor College; a bachelor’s in Philosophy from UC San Diego; a master’s in Student Personnel in Higher Education from the University of Georgia; and a doctorate in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Community College Leadership from CSU Fullerton.
Another candidate for the role of Contra Costa College president is Dr. Tia Robinson-Cooper, who is currently the provost and vice-president of academic affairs/chief academic officer at Inver Hills Community College, a campus of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. During her tenure, she initiated the PERC Promise, a plan that aimed to: (re)imagine student success and advance diversity, equity and inclusion; increase student persistence, retention, graduation and transfer; closing equity gaps; and cultivate an environment that embraces diverse perspectives.
Dr. Cooper’s past experience includes serving as the vice-president of academic affairs at East Central College, as well as various roles including dean of teaching and learning at Rock Valley College; associate dean and dean of instruction at Olive-Harvey College; dean of academic affairs at Northwestern College; and adjunct faculty appointments at the City Colleges of Chicago and University of Phoenix.
She earned an A.S. in Business from Kishwaukee College; a B.S. in Speech-Language Pathology from Northern Illinois University; an MBA and M.S. in Managerial Leadership & Organizational Development from National Louis University; and an Ed.D. in Counseling & Adult Higher Education from Northern Illinois University.
The final candidate for Contra Costa president is Dr. Tina Vasconcellos, who is in her fifth year of serving as the vice president of student services and accreditation liaison officer at College of Alameda. During her tenure as a community college educator, she has served in both instruction and student services, which she believes gives her a unique perspective.
Prior to her current role, Dr. Vasconcellos worked as the dean of academic and student affairs at Laney College and Merritt College where her experience included career education, liberal arts and student services. She has also served as a Chief Student Services Officers (CSSO) state-wide representative for several years and is currently the CSSO Executive Board Region 3 Representative, where she leads the New CSSO Virtual Pre-Conference. Some of her community leaning work with the Eat.Learn.Play Foundation and World Central Kitchen, leveraging over $900,000 to address food insecurities for students and the community. She also serves as the education lead for the Alameda County Re-entry Strategic Plan implementation.
Dr. Vasconcellos earned a Ph.D. focused on community college leadership from a national perspective from Colorado State University and a master’s in counseling psychology with an emphasis in multicultural and holistic counseling from John F. Kennedy University.
Recordings of recently held public forums concerning the candidates for college president—that were open to community members, students, faculty and staff—will be made available on the district website at www.4cd.edu.