The Southwestern College Governing Board has selected Dr. Mark Sanchez as Southwestern College’s next superintendent/president.
The board announced their decision early Wednesday morning after a six-hour closed session where they interviewed three finalists. Sanchez will replace current Superintendent/President Dr. Kindred Murillo, who is retiring in March.
Sanchez currently serves as the assistant superintendent/vice president of Student Success and Support Programs and college centers at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo. He brings more than 20 years of experience in community college leadership, teaching and instruction and workforce development.
He has implemented programs that ensure equity, diversity and inclusion among students and employees and is a strong supporter of whole-person development and services to help students achieve their educational goals.
“I understand the depth and scope of leadership a president needs to provide at Southwestern College at this time,” Sanchez said. “I want to be an accessible leader, and a leader for every group on campus and in the community.”
“I will continue to build on the excellent work done at Southwestern in creating a culture built on equity, diversity and inclusion for all of our community,” Sanchez said. “That is my commitment, and that will be my focus as the next superintendent/president.”
Sanchez takes the helm of the college at a critical juncture. The pandemic and economic insecurities have impacted the district’s budget and enrollment. Southwestern College has rallied resources to support students’ food and housing insecurities. College leadership has delved deeply into creating conversations and solutions to address long-running racial tensions. And the college continues an aggressive facilities construction program.
“The board recognized that during the midst of this pandemic and the unfolding impact on our current and future students, it is critical for us to have an equity-minded leader who has the right combination of experience and demonstrated commitment to continue, and elevate, the courageous work we have started under Dr. Murillo’s leadership,” said Governing Board President Leticia Cazares.
“We look forward to welcoming Dr. Sanchez home to his native San Diego roots and working with him and the campus community in the months ahead to begin the hard work to realize our goals and to transform the lives of our students and the communities we serve,” she said.
Sanchez said he will spend the first few months of his tenure in the new year having dialogues with the college’s executive leadership team, management team, faculty and classified professionals leadership to tackle the big challenges ahead.
“These solutions are complex and need to be a team effort,” Sanchez said. “I want to utilize the talent on campus because it’s really going to take all of us.”
Sanchez grew up in San Diego and attended Southwestern College, where he earned his Associate of Arts degree in general studies. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from Point Loma Nazarene University, Master of Arts with Distinction in education administration from California State University, Fresno and a Doctorate in educational leadership from California State University, Fresno.
The Governing Board is currently negotiating a final contract with Sanchez and expects to vote on it at their Jan. 12 meeting.