Maria Harper-Marinick was recently appointed chancellor of Maricopa Community College, the First Woman to hold that position. She is also the first Latina higher-education chancellor in Arizona.
Her background prepared her extensively for the position. She had served as Executive Vice President since 2010, overseeing much of the university’s operations. Her three primary focuses were on planning, student support and improving the stature and recognition of the college. Her focus was local, national, and international and she served in multiple organizations to achieve that agenda.
A native of the Dominican Republic, Harper-Marinick came to Arizona as a Fulbright Scholar in 1982. Both her doctorate and master’s degrees are from Arizona State University. Even before she became Executive Vice President, Harper-Marinick was chosen the Maricopa Community College’s District Office Woman of Distinction, one of many awards and recognition for her work.
Since Hispanics constitute almost a third of the population of Arizona and Maricopa County, her selection feels, to this outsider, like a reasonable choice. The appointment, however, was not without controversy. It seems some board members argued that the process was flawed since someone from inside was hired.
When I worked at the University of California back in the 1970’s, higher education institutions revamped their hiring process to assure a “fair” system. All positions had to be announced publicly and, after a thorough search, the “best-qualified” candidate would be hired, without regard to gender or ethnic background. While this sounded equitable, it had the effect of stifling advancement for women within their own institutions, as there was almost always a man from outside the organization who had already served in the advertised position at another institution, making him the best qualified for the position.
Given my experience, I am not surprised that this debate persists, but I am excited to see a woman promoted from within. It is time for women to be placed in positions for which they have demonstrated preparation, as has Maria Harper-Marinick.