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For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chris Bender @ 619.710.9535

Southwestern College Governing Board Selects Denise Whittaker as Interim Superintendent/President

Candidate Chosen for Experience In California Community College System, Proven Success with Accreditation

CHULA VISTA, CA The Southwestern College Governing Board today selected Denise Whittaker as the College's Interim Superintendent/President, following a 30-day search process and unanimous vote at the College's regular Board Meeting on Wednesday, January 19. Whittaker was chosen for her experience in the California Community College system and proven success with accreditation.

"Southwestern College is one of the most important educational institutions in the South Bay. The community expected the Governing Board to find the best Interim Superintendent/President to guide the College during this transition and I believe we accomplished that goal," Governing Board President Tim Nader said. "Based on Interim Superintendent/President Whittaker's years of experience and track record of success, she can help us overcome our most pressing challenges: accreditation, dealing with a shrinking state budget and doing so as one community."

Whittaker has 34 years of experience in California's Community Colleges, including leadership roles at Citrus College (Glendora, CA), Oxnard College (Oxnard, CA), El Camino College (Torrance, CA), San Bernardino Valley College (San Bernardino, CA) and Orange Coast College (Costa Mesa, CA). She has served as community college president, vice president, dean, faculty and counselor with a particular background and expertise in student services, enrollment management, human resources, grant writing and grants management, community outreach, contract education & economic development, foundation and institutional development.

In addition, Whittaker also served three years as the Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs at Fairmont State University in Fairmont, West Virginia and six years as an educational consultant for the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.

Whittaker served as an Accreditation Liaison Officer with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Southwestern College's accrediting agency, and has served on more than 15 accreditation teams.

She received a Master's Degree in Counseling from California State University, Los Angeles, a Bachelor's in Elementary Education (major) and Recreation/Outdoor Education (minor) from Southern Illinois University, and an Associate of Science degree in Liberal Studies from Belleville Junior College in Illinois. She has completed all of the coursework required for the Doctoral Program at UCLA with a major in Education and Work, and a minor in Behavioral Management.

"I am honored to have been selected as the Interim Superintendent/President of Southwestern College," Whittaker said. "The College's reputation of excellence and focusing on students made my decision to apply an easy one. I know we have accreditation and other challenges to face but am committed to working collaboratively with our constituent groups to effectively resolve these issues. I thank the Governing Board for selecting me for this position and look forward to working with our students, faculty, staff and administrators."

Whittaker begins her tenure at Southwestern College on Thursday, January 20, 2011.

At a Special Board Meeting on Tuesday, December 14, the Board outlined a process to select an Interim Superintendent/President. Based on feedback from the college community, the Board indicated the successful candidate must have:

  • Experience in California Community Colleges at the CEO level
  • Proven successful experience with WASC Accreditation
  • Proven experience as a collegial and collaborative leader
  • Known reputation for being a consensus builder
  • In-depth knowledge of AB1725
  • Proven experience in higher education collective bargaining in effectively using interest-based bargaining

About Southwestern College

Accredited since 1964, Southwestern College is the only public institution of higher education in southern San Diego County and serves approximately 400,000 residents in Bonita, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, National City, Nestor, Otay Mesa, Palm City, San Ysidro, Sunnyside and Coronado. The College offers more than 312 associate degree and certificate options.

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