Joint Statement

June 17, 2016

Superintendent/President Dr. Melinda Nish has mutually agreed with the Southwestern Community College District Governing Board to leave her position with the College District effective June 30, 2016. After four and a half years of intensive work to advance the mission of Southwestern College, Dr. Nish is taking time to pursue a sabbatical for personal and other professional development opportunities.

During Dr. Nish’s tenure, the number of Southwestern College graduates transferring to the California State University system has increased significantly each of the last two years. This student success was the result of concerted efforts by District counselors, faculty and staff, and this year the Campaign for College Opportunity named Southwestern College one of the top 10 High Performing Colleges in the state.

Dr. Nish’s ability to forge alliances with university partners on both sides of the border has resulted in agreements with three Mexican universities—UTT, UABC and CETYS—to develop bilingual, binational, dual degrees. In San Diego, Dr. Nish’s partnership with UC San Diego Chancellor Dr. Pradeep Khosla resulted in 50 Southwestern College students receiving free tuition at UC San Diego upon transfer. Dr. Nish has also served as a resource for the City of Chula Vista on their University Park & Innovation District.  

Working with the Governing Board, Dr. Nish has strengthened the relationship with the Sweetwater Union High School District, facilitating a successful transition between high school and college for students. Together with her partnerships with universities, the higher education opportunities have greatly expanded for South County students during her tenure at Southwestern College.

During her tenure, Dr. Nish has hired 72 full-time, tenure-track faculty, which represents 30 percent of the College’s full-time faculty, which is one of the most important factors in providing educational excellence to students.

Dr. Nish led a collaborative effort to resolve procurement issues surrounding the Proposition R bond measure and re-energize the construction program resulting in the development of the College’s corner lot—which had been vacant for more than 50 years.

The Governing Board thanks Dr. Nish for her tireless work, and wishes her success in the fulfillment of all of her pursuits.

This change provides the College with the opportunity to find its next leader to build on the hard work of our students, employees, partners and leadership over the last four years. The Board will immediately select an interim Superintendent/President, a process that will include input and participation from constituency leadership. At the same time, the Board will begin the search for a new permanent Superintendent/President through a transparent and shared process. More details regarding these plans will be shared and discussed in the coming days and weeks.