New CEOs

Chris Matheny is the next president of Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) in Wisconsin, effective August 1. He is currently executive vice president for instruction and chief academic officer at the college.

Matheny brings more than 25 years of instructional and administrative experience in higher education to the position, with 17 of those years at FVTC. Over that time, he has taken on increasing levels of responsibility to execute strategic initiatives that advance the college’s mission. Matheny joined as vice president of student services in 2004. He was promoted to vice president for student and community development in 2008 and has served in his current position since 2010. Prior to joining FVTC, Matheny served in various student services roles at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, IIT Federal Services Corporation and DePaul University.

“Fox Valley Technical College is such a critical part of the communities we serve,” Matheny said in a release. “This is home, and for the past 17 years, I’ve witnessed the positive impact the college has across our region. It really is a privilege to continue this legacy of service through education as the college’s next president.”

Star Rivera-Lacey is returning to the Palomar Community College District in California to serve as its superintendent/president, as of July 26. She is currently vice president of student services at the San Diego College of Continuing Education (SDCCE), the noncredit division of the San Diego Community College District. Earlier in her career, she was assistant superintendent/vice president of student services at Palomar.

Rivera-Lacey brings more than 23 years of administrative and leadership experience in student services and instruction at community colleges in San Diego and the broader region. Her professional accomplishments include being an Aspen Institute Rising Presidents Fellow (2020-2021) and a National Community College Hispanic Council Fellow (2018).

Immediately prior to her current vice president position, Rivera-Lacey was dean of counseling and student services at SDCCE, director of EOPS/CalWORKs/Outreach at San Diego City College, director of student support services and Upward Bound at San Diego Miramar College, and tenured counseling faculty at San Diego Mesa College.

“My passion for this work comes from having started my own higher education journey at the steps of a community college,” Rivera-Lacey said. “I am clear that if not for my positive community college experience, I would have never obtained my Ph.D. I serve as proof of the transformative power a community college education can have on a life.”

Interim president

Casey Sacks, who served as deputy assistant secretary for community colleges at the U.S. Education Department (ED) in the Trump administration, is now acting president at BridgeValley Community and Technical College in West Virginia. Most recently, Sacks was interim vice chancellor for the West Virginia Community and Technical College System. Prior to joining ED in 2019, Sacks held the same position on a permanent basis. Sacks also spent eight years at the Colorado Community College System in academic affairs.

CEOs on the move

Yves Salomon-Fernández, president of Greenfield Community College, plans to step down from the college on August 15 to serve as a senior vice president at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU).

Salomon-Fernández has served as CEO of the Massachusetts community college for three years. Previously, Salomon-Fernández was president of Cumberland County College in New Jersey and interim president of MassBay Community College.

“These last three years have been nothing short of extraordinary,” she said in a letter to the college community. “I have had the opportunity to lead the college in entrepreneurial and innovative ways with the support of a very competent managerial team, faculty and staff, and a deeply committed board. I am most proud of our work in the areas of student success, fiscal management, community engagement, fundraising, diversity, equity and inclusion, and around evolving the academic enterprise for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.”

In March 2018, Diverse Issues in Higher Education named Yves one of the Top 25 Women in Higher Education. She has served as a reviewer for the National Science Foundation and Johns Hopkins University Press, and is a member of the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) Commission on Small and Rural Colleges. Yves is also a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Community Development Council.

Thomas A. Walker, Jr., president of Wayne Community College (WCC) in North Carolina, has announced that he will leave his post on July 23. He has led the college for five years. Walker will serve as senior advisor for economic development and military affairs for the University of North Carolina System.

“I won’t be a lame-duck president,” he said in a statement. “I’ve got a lot to do before I go.”

One project he wants to focus on in his remaining time is finishing the college’s Center for Industrial Technology and Engineering (CITE). He also wants to help get college enrollment back to pre-pandemic levels.

Walker’s accomplishments at WCC include adding new degree and certificate programs, building an automotive and collision repair center and constructing the CITE.

Walker came to the college from Nebraska where he was president of the Grand Island campus of Central Community College. Prior to that, he was vice president for student and enrollment services for all locations of the college. He has also worked in higher education in Missouri, Tennessee and North Carolina.

Walker is wrapping up the North Carolina Community College System’s Advisory Council Initiative on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which he has worked on since last year.

Walker serves on AACC’s Commission on Student Success, the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research Advisory Board and the Community Colleges for Democracy Leadership Board. He is treasurer of the North Carolina Association of Community College Presidents and chair of the North Carolina Campus Compact Executive Board.


Marilyn Schlack, the first woman president of a Michigan community college, died June 22 at the age of 85. She led Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC) from 1982 to 2018, when she retired. Her career at the college began in 1974, when she joined as an associate dean. She became dean of instruction in 1976 and executive dean in 1981.

Over her 35 years as president of the college, Schlack built KVCC’s reputation as a pillar in the community. She was instrumental in several downtown development projects, including a $20 million capital campaign to build the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, which was part of a downtown revitalization program she also helped to spearhead called Arcadia Commons. In 2016, Crain’s Detroit Business named her among its 100 Most Influential Women. The college also renamed its culinary and allied health building after her.

Schlack was a proponent of career and technical education and working with local employers to help train potential workers. But she also was keenly aware of the college’s role in making the community a place residents wanted to live.

“We can train all we want but if you don’t have a community that’s welcoming, a community that’s a place people want to stay, and a community with jobs, then your training’s for naught,” she told mLlive when she announced her plans to retire.


Jo Alice Blondin, president of Ohio’s Clark State College, has been elected vice chair of the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) Board of Trustees, effectively immediately. She will become chair of the accrediting agency’s board in 2022 for a two-year term. Blondin has served HLC in multiple capacities since 2005, including peer reviewer, contributor to the Assessment Academy Design Team, an Institutional Actions Council member, and, since 2018, as a board trustee. Blondin also serves on the AACC board of directors.

Lauren Ferullo will be Grand Rapids Community College’s new athletics director, the first woman to hold that post at the Michigan college. Ferullo has been Davenport University’s assistant athletic director for compliance since 2010, and held a similar role at Lake Erie College in Ohio.

Steven Outlaw will serve as the next executive director of the Florida Public Safety Institute at Tallahassee Community College in Florida. Outlaw has more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement. He recently retired from the Tallahassee Police Department, where he was the interim chief of police.

Lisa Stock will become the new assistant provost for instruction at College of DuPage in Illinois. She is currently the college’s associate vice president of academic affairs, a position she has held since 2018.

At Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC) in Kentucky, Erin Tipton is now associate vice president for workforce solutions, Erin Howard is associate dean of global learning, and Carlous Yates is associate vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion. Tipton most recently was director of technical programs in the economic and workforce development division at the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. Howard has for 16 years served as director of Latinx and immigrant services at BCTC. Yates has worked in student services and student development at BCTC for more than 15 years.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
Matthew Dembicki edits Community College Daily and serves as associate vice president of communications for the American Association of Community Colleges.
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