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The three finalists for the position of Superintendent/President of Southwestern College and video from their public forms on Sept. 12 and 13:

Denise Whittaker

Dr. Melinda Nish

Denise Whittaker has considerable California community college leadership experience. She served over 30 combined years at Citrus College (Glendora, CA), Oxnard College (Oxnard, CA), El Camino College (Torrance, CA), San Bernardino Valley College (San Bernardino, CA), Orange Coast College (Costa Mesa, CA), and most recently at Southwestern College (Chula Vista, CA). She has community college president, vice president, dean, faculty, and counseling experience with extensive background and expertise in Accreditation compliance, student services, enrollment management, human resources, budget and fiscal management, strategic planning, community services, contract education & economic development, major construction projects, grant writing and grants management, foundation and institutional advancement.

In addition to her California higher education experience, Denise also served five years as the Vice President for Student Services & Enrollment Management at Fairmont State University in Fairmont, West Virginia and one year serving as an educational consultant to the Chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.

Denise was appointed president of San Bernardino Valley College in July, 2003 and elected to retire early in August 2007 to be with aging parents in South Carolina. In the fall, 2009, she served 6 months as the Interim President of Orange Coast College and most recently as interim superintendent/president at Southwestern College.

She received her 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 92 quarter units of coursework required for the Doctoral Program at UCLA with a major in Education and Work, and a minor in Behavioral Management.


Dr. Melinda Nish

Dr. Melinda NishMelinda Nish has served as Orange Coast College's vice president of instruction since 2005.

As vice president of instruction, she is responsible for oversight of the college's instructional program. She carries out long-term instructional planning and program development, and is responsible for maintaining a campus environment that supports students' educational goals. Nish joined Orange Coast College in 2002 as Dean of the Business and Computing Division.

Nish has led the college's accreditation efforts since 2005 as the college's Accreditation Liaison Officer for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC).

In 2009, Nish was named Orange Coast College's Manager of the Year by the Coast District Management Association (CDMA).

Nish was named president of the California Community Colleges Chief Instructional Officers for 2010-2012. She served as vice president in 2009-2010 and as Region 8 representative from 2007 -- 2009. She is currently serving as a member of the California Community Colleges Task Force on Student Success and the Intersegmental Curriculum Workgroup.

Nish served as a member of the Coast Community College District's negotiation team from 2007 to 2010 and currently serves as a consultant to the team.

Nish's educational and professional background has emphasized internationalism and the world marketplace. She lived in Europe for nearly a decade, and is fluent in both English and French.

A native of Salt Lake City, Nish earned her B.A. degree in political science, and a certificate of international relations, from the University of Utah. She received her M.A. degree from the university in economics, and studied French language and translation at the University of Nice, France. She was a doctoral candidate in international economics at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. She completed an educational doctorate at the Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara.

Nish taught international finance, corporate finance and financial mathematics at American College of Switzerland in Leysin, and at Webster University in Geneva. She spent seven years at Salt Lake Community College. She was an associate professor of finance and economics and became Department Chair of Finance, Business Economics and Business Math in 1997.


Dr. Betty Inclan

Dr. Betty InclanDr. Betty Inclan's thirty-six year career in education has enabled her to hold positions in two states: California and Florida. She has been a part-time faculty; an associate professor of English; an English department chair; a director of a general education reform at one of the largest community colleges in the nation, Miami Dade College; a division dean of language arts in the largest division at Modesto Junior College; an associate superintendent/vice president of academic affairs at Allan Hancock College; and, since January 2008, the president of Berkeley City College.

Dr. Inclan has extensive experience with accreditation, grants writing, and entrepreneurial partnerships and fundraising. She was accreditation liaison officer at Allan Hancock College for fourteen years and has served in more than eight accreditation team visits. She created the grants office at Allan Hancock College and has generated close to $10 million annually in grants. She has developed community partnerships that have generated more than $3 million annually. In terms of fundraising, in less than one year, she developed the President's Circle at Berkeley City and has generated special funding for the college.

Dr. Inclan has experience in both large multi-college districts and single college districts, including single college districts with numerous off campus centers. She has substantial experience in strategic planning, educational and facilities master plans, and technology plans. She has led planning efforts at two California colleges with research and planning reporting directly to her. In terms of enrollment management, Berkeley City College's enrollment has doubled during her tenure as president. She has also expanded distance learning and contract education opportunities. She has substantial experience creating partnerships with universities to offer four-year degrees at the community college campus.

Born in Cuba and raised in Florida, Dr. Inclan is multilingual in English, Spanish, and French. She has been a speaker on many higher education topics at both the national and state level. Some of the topics include "quality and access in community college education"; "grant writing strategies"; "diversity and cultural competence"; and "improving basic skills education."

Dr. Inclan has dedicated significant energies to the community during her career. In Berkeley, she is the vice chair of the Downtown Berkeley Business Improvement Board; a board member of the Berkeley Chamber; and a planning team member of Vision 2020, a collaborative of the University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley Unified District, and the City of Berkeley, designed to address health and education disparities among underrepresented populations. She is also a proud graduate of Leadership East Bay and Leadership Santa Maria.

Dr. Inclan earned a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Texas at Austin. Most recently, she received the honor of being a distinguished graduate of the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas at Austin. She holds a master's degree in English from Kent State University, and a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Miami. She is indeed an advocate of community colleges having received an associate's degree in English from Miami Dade College.