Jesse Pisors will serve as the next president of Pasco-Hernando State College (PHSC) in Florida. He is expected to take office in early January during a month-long transition until current PHSC President Timothy Beard’s retirement on January 31.

Pisors has served in higher education for more than 25 years, including most recently as vice president for university relations and advancement at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Previously, he was vice president for advancement and external relations at the University of Houston-Victoria. Pisors also has served as executive director of development and alumni relations at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, and senior director of development and alumni relations at Oral Roberts University.

Interim CEO

Rachel Solemsaas is now interim president at North Seattle College. She previously was chancellor of Hawaii Community College on the Big Island, stepping down this summer after seven years in the post. Prior to that, Solemsaas was vice president for finance and administrative services at Truckee Meadows Community College in Nevada, vice president for administrative services at Bellevue College, and vice president for finance and operations at Edmonds College in Washington. Before joining the community and technical college system, Solemsaas served Snohomish and King counties in various capacities in finance, related to public government, health and human services.


Orinthia T. Montague, president of Volunteer State Community College, passed away peacefully on September 22. She was 56.

Affectionately known as Dr. O, Montague joined the Tennessee college as its fourth president in September 2021. Over her two years there, Montague made an impact as she led the transformation to improve the student experience, according to the college.

“Dr. Montague was a true leader in every sense of the word,” said Emily Short, vice president of student services at Vol State. “She embodied hard work, intelligence and compassion at every level of our organization.”

The Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) System and higher education also noted her leadership and commitment to student success.

“She was a great leader who cared deeply about her students and their success,” TBR Chancellor Flora W. Tydings said in a release. “Our thoughts and prayers are with her husband and family and the campus community.”

Prior to Vol State, Montague served for four years as president of Tompkins Cortland Community College in New York. In 2020, she was appointed by then Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the New York Rebound Taskforce to find ways to spark the economy during the Covid pandemic.

Prior that, Montague was vice president of student affairs, chief diversity officer and dean of students at Normandale Community College in Minnesota. Earlier, she held several positions at the University of Missouri – St. Louis, including associate vice provost and dean of students.

Montague’s key accomplishments at Tompkins Cortland included reversing a decade-long enrollment decline, establishing new community partnerships, leading the construction of a new childcare center, helping secure over $3 million in philanthropic donations, and developing improved communications initiatives with campus constituencies.

Joe Ben Welch, the founding CEO of River Parishes Community College (RPCC) in Gonzales, Louisiana, passed away on September 12. He was 83.

Welch began his career as a high school math teacher, football coach and bus driver, according to his obituary. His higher education career began at his alma mater Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, helping to create a branch campus that is now a community college. Welch rose to various posts at Lamar State College’s Orange Campus, from math instructor to director, dean and eventually president. After 20 years at the university, he was named president of Middle Georgia College, where he served for nine years before returning to Louisiana to accept the position of founding chancellor at RPCC in 1999, a position he held until he retired in 2013.

Under Welch’s leadership, RPCC grew from a small college in rented facilities to its new campus, according to the college. What started as a class of seven grew into an enrollment of more than 3,600 at his retirement, it added.

“Dr. Welch’s legacy as the first chancellor of RPCC will forever be recognized through the thousands of students who benefited from his advocacy and commitment to provide educational and workforce training opportunities for the people of the River Region. Joe Ben Welch almost singlehandedly built RPCC into the academic and workforce engine it is today and am I grateful for all he did for the college,” RPCC Chancellor Quintin D. Taylor said in a release.


Christopher Reber, president of Hudson County Community College (HCCC), has again been named to the NJBIZ “Education Power 50” list. It is the third time he has made the list.

Since arriving to the New Jersey college in 2018, Reber has focused on student success, diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as workforce development, by ramping up programs like Hudson Scholars, the Hudson Helps Resource Center and the HCCC Apprenticeship Program, just to name a few.

“We are very proud of him and everything he has done to promote student success, and diversity, equity and inclusion,” William J. Netchert, chair of the college board, said in a press release. “He continues to address the challenges of helping the people of our community attain their educational goals, enjoy well-paying, sustainable careers and achieve lasting improvement in Hudson County’s workforce.”


Todd Haynie, president of Eastern Arizona College, has been appointed to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) by Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs. The commission, which comprises 48 commissioners from the 15 Western states and the U.S. Pacific Territories and Freely Associated States, guides WICHE’s direction and assures the Western Regional Education Compact is carried out for the benefit of the West.

Christina Royal, who retired this year as president of Holyoke Community College in Massachusetts, has been appointed By Gov. Maura Healey to the 13-member Board of Higher Education for Massachusetts. Since her retirement, Royal has run her own consulting business.

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.