College’s candidate for WCCC post has rocky past

Possible interviewee for GJ post was dismissed from last job under cloud

A woman whom Mesa State College is considering to head the Western Colorado Community College campus was removed from her last position over allegations of mismanaging funds.

Christine Johnson was president of the Community College of Denver from 2001 to 2007 and was the first Hispanic female college president in the state. Johnson’s contract was not renewed, however, after an internal audit of the college’s finances revealed discrepancies in budget reporting and violations of federal law.

Mesa State is seeking a replacement for Marsha Arzy, who resigned her position as vice president of community college affairs effective March 1. Arzy, who started the WCCC job in July 2007, cited personal reasons for her departure.

Mesa State President Tim Foster said he has talked to Johnson, but no formal offer has been extended to her.

Johnson’s removal from the Community College of Denver was highly publicized and included allegations that Johnson asked her chief financial officer to tell the state the amount of the college’s reserve budget was unknown, even though she had that information at the time.

Johnson also was accused of paying student-recruiting fees to an instructor at the community college, which violates federal law.

After her dismissal, Johnson filed a lawsuit against the community college. The lawsuit was settled in November.

Johnson’s career has been in education in Colorado, and she was one of three candidates to take over as superintendent of Denver Public Schools when then-Superintendent Michael Bennet was chosen this year to replace Ken Salazar in the U.S. Senate.

Johnson is a former chairwoman of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. 

Lynn Woellhof, a long-time administrator with Western Colorado Community College, is serving as interim vice president at Western Colorado Community College for the remainder of the school year.


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