The selection process for the hiring of a new vice president of human resources at Bellevue College is nearing a close. Two final candidates remain: Aaron Hilliard and Dennis Defa. Both candidates have visited the campus in the past week to hold an open caucus in which Bellevue College employees had the chance to ask questions about the candidates backgrounds, values, goals and vision for Bellevue College. Each caucus consisted of two one-hour public interviews.
Hilliard began working with human resources in retail before switching to the Human Resources Administration for Muskegon Community College where he has held a leadership position since 1999. Defa has many years of experience working in human resources and has worked in the HR departments of Montana State University, Central Washington University, Southern Oregon University and the University of Utah.
Both candidates were asked to consider the scale of the previous colleges they worked at compared to Bellevue College and potential adjustments.
Hilliard replied that “One of the things that concerns me most is the larger scale. Had I had to do that with the four people in the human resources department at Muskegon Community College, I would be the first to tell you that it’s not going to happen. What Bellevue College has is a very functional HR staff in place now, and the scale of staff that they have [in the HR department] is based on an ideal model built to respond to the needs of Bellevue College. I don’t think that one person can handle everything, so my job would include counting on people to do what they do best.”
Defa explained: “When I worked at the University of Utah, we had 33,000 students enrolled and close to 24,000 employees due to the fact that it is a research-oriented college and included a hospital. In terms of scale, they are pretty comparable.”
Concerning the matter of potentially disciplining employees, Hilliard said: “If there is a situation in which discipline is required, I want to make sure that not only am I hearing the side of the person who is being disciplined, I want to make sure they are involved in that process. I want to give them every opportunity for them to write out their concerns and responses and that it becomes part of the file. That way, it’s never a single story of what happened with only a single point of view.”
On the subject of employee misconduct, Defa remarked: “I’ve never fired anybody, but I’ve helped a number of people fire themselves. Employees need to understand what conduct is inappropriate and if they continue to do it, there is a process for a reason.”
When asked what his vision of a future Bellevue College would be, Hilliard responded: “I don’t know the community well enough to make that [decision] right now. I need to listen, I need to learn, I need to understand what Bellevue College is, where Bellevue wants to go and what I can do to help that transition.”
Defa shared a similar sentiment: “If I am offered this position, my plan would be to take 60 days to drink coffee, kick my feet up and listen to the employees of Bellevue College in order to find out what the issues are. My question to employees would be ‘What are you looking for in an HR operation?’”
Following the causes, the candidates are now in the final phase of the hiring process. BC President Dr. David Rule will now select the which candidate to hire. Rule is expected to make his selection in the coming months at which time the chosen candidate will be notified and announced to the school.