Thursday, October 16, 2008
Steamboat Springs Peter Perhac said Steamboat Springs feels just like home.
The new chief executive officer of Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus has been skiing since he was 3 years old and was raised in a ski resort town in New Hampshire. Now moving from California, where he has led a community college campus in Fairfield, Perhac said he is looking forward to the small-town feel and slopes.
One of Perhac's first goals - and one of the reasons he was selected for the position - is to create connections with the community so the college and city can benefit from each other.
"What I want to bring is my relationship with the community. I created a lot of partnerships in my current county," he said. "My goal is to meet with all the business owners on Main Street."
Perhac said cooperation with local business leaders draws attention to what the community needs and expects.
"They usually have an impression of the college and ideas of what the college should be doing," he said. "It gives me an impression of what the community wants."
A search committee, led by Peggy Curry, the Vail-Eagle Valley Campus CEO, looked through more than 125 applications to determine the four finalists. Those applicants visited the campus in September. After the interviews and public comments, Perhac was offered the job Oct. 3 and accepted the position Oct. 11.
"Peter stood out for a lot of reasons," said Curry. "One of the things we noticed, comparing the phone interview with the live interview, is that he was very consistent in his responses and very much student-focused."
Curry also praised Perhac's intellect and the transparency of his leadership style.
"He had many of the right-on kinds of answers to the questions the search committee asked," Curry said. "He was head and shoulders above the others, and we had some very fine other candidates."
Perhac is the CEO of Chapman University's Fairfield/Travis Campus in Fairfield, Calif. He holds a doctorate degree in educational administration from the University of San Francisco, as well as a master of arts in counseling and a bachelor of arts in psychology from John Carroll University in Cleveland. He also has conducted postdoctoral studies in the management development program at Harvard University.
Perhac also is an avid skier and has traveled to France and Switzerland for the pursuit. He also has been on the Matterhorn, the famous mountain on the border of Switzerland and Italy, "a number of times," he said.
Perhac said he will be moving to Steamboat soon and is in the process of finding housing to accommodate his rat terrier, Gracie. He will begin work at the college Dec. 8.
During the search process, the college solicited responses from the community online and in person during community meetings with the candidates. The position was vacated in June when Kerry Hart took a job as president of Morgan Community College in Fort Morgan. The title of the position was changed from dean to CEO, but the duties remain the same.
Former CMC Dean John Vickery returned from retirement to lead the campus in an interim capacity during the search process.
Stan Jensen, president of the CMC system, said he listened to all perspectives before making the final decision to offer Perhac the job.
"The choice came down to trying to find someone who would be the best leader in Steamboat Springs for the community, as well as for the college. I think Peter's a great choice," he said.
Jensen listed Perhac's communication skills and his ability to work with the community as some of his strongest characteristics.
"I think the best days of CMC are directly ahead of us," he said.