Susan Looney has been named the sixth president of Reading Area Community College in Pennsylvania. Looney, who is currently the college’s senior vice president of academic affairs/provost, joined RACC in 2014 as dean of instruction. A community college aluma, Looney started her teaching career as a full-time accounting faculty member at Mohave Community College in Arizona and then taught business administration at Delaware Technical Community College. Prior to entering higher education, she served at the U.S. Department of Defense as an operations research analyst, creating detailed planning and forecast models and briefing top U.S. Army officials and the U.S. House Appropriations Committee on budget and performance issues.


Carlos Turner Cortez, president of San Diego Continuing Education, has received the Excellence in Continuing Education award from the Association of Community and Continuing Education. Turner Cortez is the only president of a noncredit organization in the state to receive this recognition.

CEO retirement

Mary Rittling, president of Davidson County Community College (DCCC) in North Carolina, will retire at the end of 2018. Rittling’s 15-year tenure has been a period of remarkable growth for DCCC, ranging from program expansion and physical growth to a variety of national accomplishments and accolades. Since 2003, she has focused to improve academic programs to ensure that students enter the workforce with 21st-century knowledge. In addition to building a robust transfer program, Rittling has overseen the addition of programs in advanced manufacturing and allied health. DCCC also is one of the few community colleges nationally to have a zoo and aquarium science program. Dental assisting will make its debut next year. Both the Davidson and Davie campuses are home to a successful early college high school program.

In addition, Rittling has served on the national boards for the American Association of Community Colleges and Community Colleges for International Development while also being involved with the Aspen Institute, Jobs for the Future and various initiatives with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Mary Rittling is a leader like I’ve never seen before,” said Ken White, chair of DCCC board of trustees. “She’s taught everyone connected to DCCC how to think, dream and pursue opportunities in new ways, and DCCC will forever benefit.”


Irene Porcarello, president of Houston Community College’s (HCC) Southeast College, passed away on February 3. Porcarello joined HCC 36 years ago and was named president of Southeast College in 2009. As president, Porcarello worked relentlessly building the Centers of Excellence in Logistics and Material Science. This included building partnerships between the college and public schools, community-based organizations, small businesses, East End Chamber, Houston Port Authority and community leaders. In 2017, Porcarello presided over the openings of the new Southeast College Workforce Building and Student Life Center.

“She worked tirelessly to provide educational opportunities for thousands of students,” said HCC Chancellor Cesar Maldonado. “This is a loss that will be felt deeply by those who worked with her and admired her so much.”

In 2017, Porcarello was recognized with the Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Award and had received numerous honors, including the 2016 YWCA Outstanding Leadership Award; the 2013 Fiestas Patrias Distinguished Hispanic of the Year Award; the Hispanic Woman of the Year from Sucesos Magazine in 2009; and a Profile of Prominence Award from the National Women of Achievement Organization in 2008.


Tracy Ariel is now executive director of Tunxis Community College’s Tunxis@Bristol and will lead the satellite location and expand training and educational programs with industry partners, manufacturers and the community. Ariel most recently was director of Advanced Manufacturing Centers at the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system office.

Joanne Ceres is the new vice president of student services and enrollment management at Cape Fear Community College in North Carolina. She formerly was interim vice president of student development services and dean of enrollment management and student services at Pitt Community College in North Carolina.

Alice Harris has been named executive vice president at West Virginia University at Parkersburg. Since 2014, Harris has served as the college’s vice president for finance and administration. Previously, she owned her own full-service accounting firm for more than a decade.

Mojdeh Mehdizadeh, president of Contra Costa College in California, will return to the Contra Costa Community College District Office as executive vice chancellor of education and technology, effective March 15. Retired Santa Monica College President/Superintendent Chui Tsang will serve as interim president of Contra Costa College. CCCCD Chancellor Fred E. Wood said in a press release he asked Mehdizadeh to consider returning to the district office because it needs her skills and experience to help all three colleges, particularly in initiatives such as Guided Pathways, the academic and student services innovations needed to respond to state requests and mandates, and the integration of technology to better track and increase student success.

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