A Centralia College administrator will be the next president of Lower Columbia College.
The LCC Board of Trustees on Wednesday selected Chris Bailey, a vice president at the Lewis County community college, to take over when president Jim McLaughlin retires in September.
Board members said Bailey's communication and leadership qualities helped boost him above three other finalists.
"I think we have really succeeded in finding an outstanding leader to lead our college," Board Chairman Max Anderson said.
The five-member board discussed the candidates for three hours behind closed doors Wednesday evening before voting unanimously to offer Bailey the job.
Bailey, 50, has served as vice president of human resources and legal affairs at Centralia College for six years and has taught business and law classes at the college for two decades. Before working at the college, Bailey was president and general manager at Martin Sand and Gravel Co. in southern Thurston County. He also previously worked as an attorney. He has a law degree from the University of Washington and a bachelor's degree in business administration from Western Washington University.
Anderson said Bailey's experience at nearby Centralia College and his familiarity dealing with budget cuts made him a good fit for LCC. The colleges serve similar populations and both have seen a rise in enrollment, with many workers seeking retraining.
"Certainly his awareness of ... regional challenges and issues was a strength," said Anderson, who also noted Bailey's work advocating for higher education at the Legislature.
Bailey will start work Sept. 1.
Bailey was one of four finalists selected out of an applicant pool of 23. All four finalists visited the college. The others were Stephen Schoonmaker, a vice president at Clatsop Community College; Christine Chairsell, a vice president at Portland Community College; and Carmen Simone, a vice president at Casper College in Wyoming.
McLaughlin is retiring after 14 years as LCC president.