CEO on the move

Russell Lowery-Hart began his service as the ninth chancellor of Austin Community College (Texas) on October 1.

Lowery-Hart comes from Amarillo College (AC), where he was president since 2014. Under his leadership, the Texas college received the prestigious 2023 Aspen Prize, a Community College Excellence award. Lowery-Hart developed the college’s “Culture of Caring,” which focused on removing poverty barriers. AC’s three-year completion rates more than doubled from 22% to 56% while he was president. Additionally, the college saw a 75% growth rate of first-generation students completing their degree or certificate.

“I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead to take the knowledge I have gained about community colleges, the staff and the students we serve and apply it to a larger community college system,” Lowery-Hart said in a statement. “It isn’t a copy-and-paste situation, but those skills are transferable. My first priority is to take the time to listen to the concerns and needs of the ACC community and move forward together. I began my career in Austin, and coming back will take it full circle.”

Before serving as CEO at Amarillo, Lowery-Hart — who is a member of the American Association of Community Colleges board of directors — was the college’s vice president of academic affairs for four years.


Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles will serve as the fourth president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

From 2011 to 2016, Quarles — a former community college student — was a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives. This spring, he campaigned for the GOP nomination for governor of Kentucky. A press release from the system notes that Quarles, as a college student, was appointed by then Gov. Ernie Fletcher as the student representative to the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, the state’s higher education coordinating agency. In that role, he learned about key issues of campuses and the state-level operations of higher education.

“We are so excited to bring Dr. Quarles on board,” said KCTCS Board of Regents Chair Barry Martin in a release. “He’ll be both a tireless advocate and strong communicator to advance our vision to be even more impactful for our students, faculty and staff, workforce partners, and communities.”

Quarles said he’s eager to transition into higher education.

“For countless Kentuckians, our community and technical colleges change lives every day as we not only fulfill career dreams but also strengthen our state’s workforce needs,” he told the Associated Press, calling the KCTCS system “our state’s most impactful higher education entity.”

Interim CEO

Liang Chee Wee will serve as interim chancellor of Eastern Iowa Community Colleges (EICC), starting October 9.

Prior to his retirement in 2022, Chee Wee was president of Northeast Iowa Community College from 2011 to 2022 and also served as its provost from 2007 to 2011. During his tenure as CEO, Wee focused on establishing partnerships to expand educational access for learners of all backgrounds, promoting economic growth for businesses and enhancing the well-being of communities in northeastern Iowa.

“His leadership will have a positive impact on our students,” said EICC Board of Trustees President Bob Gallagher. “And his generous spirit, fresh perspective and professional background will set the tone to move the college forward.”

Retirement announcement

Patricia Erjavec, president of Pueblo Community College (PCC), has announced her plans to retire next May. She has served as the Colorado college’s CEO since June 2010.

Joe Garcia, chancellor of the Colorado Community College System (CCCS), lauded Erjavec for her strong leadership and commitment.

“Dr. Erjavec has poured her heart into PCC, and the energy, creativity and expertise she brought to the entire organization will likely never be matched,” he said in a release. “Among her many accomplishments, Dr. Erjavec has opened beautiful new learning facilities and pioneered many of our system’s most innovative work-based learning models.”

Erjavec has led the college through much growth. During her tenure, PCC has added nearly 30 associate degrees and seven new bachelor’s degrees in computer science, dental hygiene and allied health fields — all aligned with regional workforce needs, the college said. PCC also expanded its concurrent enrollment program to more rural high schools. She has also pushed the college to steadily improve its retention and graduation rates through various efforts, including PCC’s Return to Earn program, which has garnered national recognition for re-engaging students who stopped out. In 2019, Dr. Erjavec was named a “Woman of Influence” by the Colorado Springs Business Journal. She was also inducted into the Pueblo Hall of Fame in 2010.

Erjavec has served CCCS for two decades, including two consecutive terms on the State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education, which she chaired for two years. She also was interim president of CCCS for nine months before joining PCC.

Prior to PCC, Erjavec was president and CEO of an adolescent treatment community.


Fred Keating, president of Rowan College of South Jersey (RCSJ), is one of two local leaders selected by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Gloucester County as its 2023 Persons of the Year.

The theme of the gala where they will be honored is “Together for Children: Strengthening Partnerships in Education and Healthcare.” Keating and the other recipient, the CEO of a local healthcare organization, recently created a partnership to educate and retain future healthcare professionals and provide priority clinical experience to support nursing, behavioral and allied health students at the college, according to a release.

As part of the partnership, two of the college’s healthcare-related buildings will display Inspira Health’s name. Scholarships will be provided to eligible RCSJ students pursuing healthcare occupations, and the college will also give Inspira employees a 50% discount on tuition.

Melissa Hopp, vice president of administrative services at Community College of Baltimore County (Maryland), has been named one of 10 honorees for the 2023 Best in Finance: CFO Awards by the Baltimore Business Journal. The award is given every other year to leaders who have demonstrated significant financial growth, overcome business challenges, shown team leadership and contributed to their communities, among other achievements, according to a release. Hopp has served for 35 years as a community college senior executive.


Lisa Skari, president of Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC) in Oregon, has been appointed to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) by Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek. She is one of three representatives from the state serving on the 48-member commission, which guides WICHE’s direction and assures the Western Regional Education Compact is carried out for the benefit of the West.

“President Skari’s impressive career in higher education leadership uniquely positions her to support the Commission’s goals,” said WICHE President Demarée Michelau. “Her experience will play a vital role in advancing our commitment to student access and success throughout the Western region, and I am excited to welcome her to our team.”

Amanda Dooling is the now assistant dean of academic and student development at North Shore Community College in Massachusetts. Prior to this position, she was the college’s director of student engagement.

Joseph A. Giuffre is the new associate vice president for student development at Harford Community College in Maryland. He previously worked as a student activities generalist/consultant for Alvernia University.

Maris Lown has been promoted to provost/vice president for academic affairs at Union College of Union County, New Jersey. She previously was the college’s vice president for academic affairs.

Ben Naylor is now chief of staff and vice president of strategic operations at SUNY Westchester Community College in New York. He comes from Rockland Community College (RCC) in New York, where he served for nine years, including six as the chief of staff to two RCC presidents.

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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