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December 14, 2002

Board interviews 3 AIDB president candidates

From: Daily Home Online, AL - 14 Dec 2002

By Michael Seale

TALLADEGA - Three candidates were interviewed Friday to fill the position of president at the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind.

The AIDB Board of Trustees interviewed Dr. William Roden first.

Roden is chancellor of the Louisiana Technical College, a position he has held since 2000.

Roden was asked if he had any experience working with handicapped citizens, and said his experience with the handicapped was limited.

"My experience working with the handicapped has been primarily with adults," he said. "I have not worked one-on-one with handicapped students."

Roden stressed his experience in having access to 'non-traditional students' in his position at the community college in Louisiana.

"I am interested in giving those students access to educational opportunities they might not ordinarily receive," Roden said.

He added that he is aware of the laws involving the Americans with Disabilities Act, and has experience working with parents on the expectations for their children.

When asked to discuss his management style, Roden said, "I subscribe to a collaborative style of management. If we are able to put the right person in the right job then they are responsible for that job."

He said he has experience working with state legislators, and has been effective in his dealings with them in Louisiana.

"I spend a great deal of time at the capital," he said. "And I have had a lot of one on one contact with legislators."

Some board members expressed concern over whether or not AIDB will get into a bidding war with Roden's former employer.

"I want to return to a campus environment," Roden said. "If I am fortunate enough to be offered this position, I would be as happy as can be."

In regards to dealing with proration, Roden said he has had to deal with budget shortfalls, and has been able to manage successfully.

Roden was also asked his feelings about a proposed junior college for the deaf and blind.

"That, I feel, is one of the more attractive aspects of this position," he said. "It is critical that students have access to this."

Roden has been involved in community groups such as the Rotary Club and Lion's Club, and said if he was offered the position at AIDB he would continue to be involved in the community.

The next candidate interviewed was Dr. Catherine Diederich, who serves as the president of the Center for Sight and Hearing in Rockford, Ill.

Diederich said she has had experience dealing with budget shortfalls as well, and said she has been able to make do with limited funds.

"I have learned to rearrange priorities based on resources," she said. "It is never easy, but I feel I made the right decisions."

She said her reasons for wanting the job at AIDB dealt primarily with her passion for deaf and blind people.

"I love dealing with deafness and blindness," she said. "It is a true passion of mine."

When asked about her ability to manage the industrial side of the institution, she said she "has the skills to choose the right people to operate it."

She said her fund-raising skills have been best demonstrated in an individual scale.

"I have been most successful with individual fund-raising, and have been good at getting funds from businesses," she said. "But I will need some help with events."

She described her style of leadership as "hands off."

She added, "I am best as a leader when I have a good team."

She said the goal of rehabilitating the deaf and blind is independence.

"It is up to the individual," she said. "I believe independence is the goal."

The last candidate interviewed Friday was Dr. Steve Franks, the current director of the Arkansas Department of Workforce Education.

Franks has ties to Talladega County, having taught at Sylacauga High School several years ago.

He said he is seeking the position for several reasons, namely the reputation of the institute and the opportunity to return to Alabama.

He said he wishes to build a "personal relationship with the legislators and look upon the legislators as investors."

He said he has had experience dealing with proration, as Arkansas went through proration in 1990 and 1991.

He also stressed the importance of private fund-raising, and said one asset he believes he brings to AIDB is a close relationship with the business community.

Franks described his management style as "participatory management."

He added, "But you know where the buck stops."

He said if offered the position, he would be active in civic clubs, county and city government, and the legislative process.

"What is good for the institute is good for Talladega County," Franks said.

He said his relationships with highly profitable businesses are solid enough to be able to secure funds for AIDB.

Saturday, the board will interview Dr. James Britt and Dr. Terry Graham.

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