Newsmakers

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New CEOs

James Johnston is now chancellor of Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell. He had most recently served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Midwestern State University in Texas, a position he held since 2017.

Johnston had served at Midwestern State since 2003, holding several leadership positions, including interim president from September 2021 to May 2022. During this time, he helped to lead the university through its transition to the Texas Tech University System while also initiating the university’s centennial celebration, continuing the university’s comprehensive fundraising campaign, and working with his task force to increase student enrollment and success, according to a release.

At Midwestern State, Johnston has also served as dean of the Robert D and Carol Gunn College of Health Sciences and Human Services, and prior to that, he was the college’s director of interdisciplinary education.

Jeannie G. Kim has been named the sixth president of California’s Santiago Canyon College, effective immediately.

Kim — known as a champion of socio-economic mobility and advocate of building cultural and social networks via higher education — has more than 30 years of experience at private and public institutions of higher learning that include the University of California, California State University and the California community college systems.

Kim comes from the Riverside Community College District where she was associate vice chancellor of grants and economic development. She also served as the college’s interim vice chancellor of educational services and strategic planning.

“Dr. Kim’s educational career has been dedicated to crafting equitable systems by identifying and dismantling barriers, while also rebuilding the appropriate infrastructure necessary allowing historically underserved and underrepresented students to thrive,” according to a release from the college. “She brings a proven track record in succession planning, establishing organizational infrastructure, facilitating culture shifts, developing strategic partnerships and evaluation systems for both institutional and program operations.”

Vern Lindquist is now the fourth president of Johnston Community College in North Carolina.

“The college is on a positive trajectory, and I am excited to help move this institution along that path,” Lindquist said in a statement. “We had a great spring enrollment period and have plans to expand both programs and locations. We are going to be very busy.”

Lindquist comes from Lincoln Land Community College in Illinois, where he has served as vice president of academics for five years. Prior to that, he was dean of faculty at Richard Bland College in Virginia and before that he was dean at SUNY Delhi.

Lindquist has nearly 30 years of experience in higher education, including almost two decades as an instructor at a community college.

Paul R. Watson II will become the seventh president of Michigan’s Kellogg Community College. He has served as the college’s interim president over the past nine months. He joined the college in 2019 as vice president of instruction.

“In partnership with all constituents – the board of trustees, faculty, administrators, staff, community members, employers and students – I am eager to lead this institution as we provide all students with excellent instruction, accessible pathways to rewarding careers and opportunities to successfully transfer to other institutions,” Watson said in a release.

Watson has 20 years of teaching experience at the secondary and postsecondary levels, plus 10 years of experience as an administrative leader in higher education. He was at the Pennsylvania College of Technology from 2011 to 2018 as a director, assistant dean and dean. Prior to that, he was a high school math teacher in New York and an assistant professor of mathematics at Houghton College in New York.

Watson also serves as a Higher Learning Commission peer reviewer, vice president of the Council of Accreditation for Two-Year Colleges, and on other community task forces and committees.

Kudos

Mike Flores, chancellor of the Alamo Colleges District in Texas, has been named a 2023 recipient of the Baldrige Foundation Award for Leadership Excellence in the education sector. The awards recognize outstanding individuals, leaders and supporters who embody Baldrige leadership and management values and principles and who have provided outstanding service to the Baldrige community and beyond.

“I am incredibly honored to receive this award from the Baldrige Foundation on behalf of the Alamo Colleges District,” Flores said. “This award not only recognizes our district-wide commitment to be best in class but recognizes our district’s collective effort to empower our diverse communities for success.”

In 2018, the Alamo Colleges District was the first community college system in the country to receive the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest presidential honor for performance excellence through innovation, improvement and visionary leadership.

CEO retirement announcement

Richard M. Rhodes, the longest-serving chancellor of the Austin Community College District (ACC), will retire in August.

Since taking the helm of the Texas college in 2011, Rhodes has cultivated a culture of innovation, collaboration and transformation to put the college at the forefront of the future of higher education. Under his leadership, ACC has been recognized in the region, state and nation for its innovation. Among them, the college established new ways of teaching and learning through collaborative learning spaces like the ACCelerator, a nationally recognized learning center that delivers personalized learning and just-in-time intervention. He also guided the college in expanding opportunities for local high school students through dual enrollment, early college high schools, career academies and the P-Tech program. On the workforce side, ACC has established partnerships with companies such as Tesla, Samsung, Baylor Scott & White, Toyota, NXP, Apple and more that help build a skilled workforce and connect students with real-world experience.

“It’s clear — Dr. Rhodes’ contributions to this college and community are immeasurable. It’s difficult to find someone who cares more about students than Richard,” ACC board chair Barbara Mink said in a release. “His passion for innovation and collaboration has truly been transformative. Through his leadership, ACC has grown into one of the leading colleges in the nation — recognized for its progress in closing equity gaps, increasing completion rates, establishing advanced learning environments and more. We are grateful for his leadership, his dedication and his service to this college. He will be missed.”

Rhodes also advocated for community college at the national level, serving as a previous board chair of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

“Richard has had an amazing impact on not only his local college, making ACC one of the finest community colleges in America, but he has also been hugely impactful on the national agenda for community colleges,” said AACC President and CEO Walter G. Bumphus.

Rhodes has also served as a board member of the Texas Workforce Investment Council and past chair of the Texas Association of Community Colleges.

Prior to ACC, Rhodes was president of El Paso Community College (Texas) for 10 years and also served as vice president of business services at Salt Lake Community College (Utah) for seven years.

Appointments

Robert Grant will serve as executive director of institutional advancement and communications at Savannah Technical College in Georgia. He previously was director of development at the Parker College of Business at Georgia Southern University.

Jonathan Miller is now dean of student engagement at the Community College of Rhode Island. He comes from Northern Essex Community College (Massachusetts), where he was assistant vice president of student affairs and later dean of students.

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.