Kimberlee Messina takes the helm at Spokane Falls Community College

Just over a year after Spokane Falls Community College interim President Darren Pitcher resigned amid a sex scandal, a new president has been chosen to lead the college.

Community Colleges of Spokane, the governing district in charge of SFCC and Spokane Community College, chose Kimberlee Messina to be the next president. Messina is coming from California, where she was interim vice president of instruction at Clovis Community College.

"She was our top choice," says Christine Johnson, chancellor for Community Colleges of Spokane. "She's got very rich experience at multiple colleges and her references at every place were very solid."

Messina was one of three finalists for the job. The other two finalists were Mark Smith, vice president for educational services at Temple College in Texas, and Peter Maphumulo, vice president for student services at Victor Valley College in California. Messina was a finalist in other community college presidential jobs as well, including at Santa Fe Community College, Chemeketa Community College and Central Oregon Community College, according to news reports.

Messina, described in an SFCC press release as a "strong supporter of student success and equity," is herself a first-generation college graduate. Johnson says that's important because a "large percentage" of community college students in Spokane are first-generation students.

The college had interim presidents since Janet Gullickson left SFCC in 2017. Pitcher took the job in an interim role before resigning amid an investigation into inappropriate relationships with subordinates and sexual harassment. Nancy Fair-Szofran has served as the interim president since, and she will retire after Messina takes over in June.

Johnson says Messina's biggest challenge will be building relationships with the community, starting from scratch.

"She'll need to earn the trust of colleagues within SFCC and districtwide and get to know students and their needs," Johnson says. "I'm very excited about the future of Spokane Falls with Dr. Messina at the helm." (WILSON CRISCIONE) ♦