Julie (Walker) Huckestein (ADP98), the new president of Oregon’s 12,500-student Chemeketa Community College, was not a candidate for the job. Yet she was declared the perfect fit.
That was the judgment of the presidential search advisory committee, which on Feb. 18 said none of the 21 applicants in a strong pool should continue to be considered – that no one was a complete fit. It then immediately turned to Huckestein, the college’s interim president, who had said when appointed to the temporary role in July 2014 that she was not a candidate for the permanent position. The board chair declared otherwise, stating, “Julie is that complete fit. Our search is over.”
Huckestein, the mother of three daughters, is a 14-year veteran with the Salem, Ore.-based community college that was founded in 1969 and now has six additional teaching sites in three counties. She started at Chemeketa in 2001 as assistant to the chief financial officer and director of business services. She was in that role for 10 years when she was promoted to vice president and CFO in January 2011, in that position when asked to step in as interim president.
The 14 years at Chemeketa follows the same number of years at Linn-Benton Community College, based in Albany, Ore., from which she received an associate’s degree in business administration in 1996. She served as director of budget and finance and in several other positions. That followed eight years in accounting as an analyst, office manager and tax preparer.
It has been noted that Huckestein’s educational process represents one available to many of her own students. She received her associate’s degree at 37, then enrolled in George Fox’s Adult Degree Program, participating in Cohort 26 at the university’s Salem site. She then went on to Portland State to earn a master’s degree in 2004, studying education policy analysis.
Huckestein is now getting used to being in the limelight, noting that in her finance positions people only wanted to talk about money. Now she’s being interviewed by news media, leading employee meetings and speaking before Oregon legislative committees. “I’m not used to having a lot of attention,” she says. But Huckestein is adapting. “I’m having fun doing all this.”