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SCVNews.com | COC’s Jerry Buckley a Finalist for Chief of Ventura County Colleges | 03-10-2017
Santa Clarita CA
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2009 - Castaic resident Gidget, the Taco Bell commercial Chihuahua, dies at 15 after major stroke [story]

The Ventura County Community College District announces six finalists who will be considered for the position of Chancellor.  Among the candidates are: Dr. Jerry Buckley, Dr. David El Fattal, Dr. Greg Gillespie, Dr. Otto W. K. Lee, Dr. Melinda Nish and Dr. Arturo Reyes.

The District will host a public forum for the community and members of the VCCCD staff to hear presentations from the finalists Monday, March 20, 2017, at the Ventura County Office of Education, 5100 Adolfo Road, Camarillo, CA (The forum schedule is in production and the times will be announced at a later date).  The diverse group of qualified community college professionals will be interviewed during closed-session meetings Monday, March 20, 2017, and Tuesday, March 21, 2017.  The final selection will be made and announced tentatively at the April 11, 2017, Board meeting with an anticipated start date of July 1, 2017.

Candidate bios in alphabetical order:

Photo of Dr. Jerry L. BuckleyDr. Jerry L. Buckley holds a Doctorate in Education from San Diego State University, a master’s degree in Biology from California State University, Fullerton, and a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Southern California.  His career in higher education began in 1990 as an instructor in medical electronics at Grossmont College.  He had served fourteen years in healthcare where he coordinated and trained personnel in selected areas of diagnostic procedures, investigational medical devices and clinical research activities.  His early teaching career was focused on developing educational programs and curricula in both cardiovascular and anesthesia technology.

Buckley later became Dean of Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Exercise Science and Wellness at Grossmont College in 2005.  In December 2010, he became the Senior Dean of Research, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness at the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District.  In January 2012, Buckley moved to the San Diego Community College District to assume the position of Vice President of Instruction and served as the Accreditation Liaison Officer for San Diego Miramar College. Finally, in August 2013, Buckley joined College of the Canyons as the Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Academic Affairs, working with business and industry; he also worked with 83 instructional programs to address the educational needs of the Santa Clarita Valley, where he has been working to implement aligned career pathways and enhance adult education. Buckley serves as the chairman of the Santa Clarita Environmental Education Consortium, is a board member of the Valley Industrial Association, and is on the advisory committee for the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center.

photo of Dr. David El FattalDr. David El Fattal has served as an executive leader in California community colleges, K-12 schools and private industry for 27 years.  He currently serves as Vice Chancellor, Business and Administrative Services, for the Ventura County Community College District.  Previously, he served as Vice President of Business Services/Assistant Superintendent at Cerritos Community College District and also as Assistant Superintendent, Business Services, at Culver City Unified School District. He is now in his 14th year of service as chief business and administrative officer, as his tenure in this capacity began in 2003.  Complementing his broad expertise in finance, administration and college operations, El Fattal routinely collaborates with faculty, classified and administrative constituencies to implement and support best practices across instructional and student support services areas.  He has also served as an adjunct instructor teaching undergraduate and graduate courses.

El Fattal holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in community college leadership from California State University, Fullerton, a Master of Business Administration from Pepperdine University, a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Redlands, and an Associate of Arts from Azusa Pacific University.  He is a first-generation college student and an advocate for progressive state policies and innovative institution-level initiatives for advancing the social mobility of underprepared students by increasing student attainment outcomes and closing access and achievement gaps.  El Fattal has served in executive roles on multiple state and local boards over many years and is well-regarded by students, employees, colleagues and community members for his authentic servant-leadership approach to serving an institution.  El Fattal has broad and deep educational leadership experience in diversity, ongoing continuous improvement, innovative partnerships, community engagement, workforce and professional development, grants acquisition and oversight, fundraising, oversight of multi-million dollar bond construction programs, and global sustainability practices – at the physical campus, in the curriculum and in community outreach.

photo of Dr. Greg GillespieDr. Greg Gillespie has served as the President of Ventura College for nearly four years.  He has worked for more than 23 years in the community college system and has served in faculty, director, dean, vice president, and president positions at four different community colleges in Arizona, California and Washington.  These positions provided direct work experience and responsibilities in instruction, administrative services, and student services functions of community colleges.  Gillespie is focused on supporting Ventura College and the District in providing student-centered access to quality and relevant educational programs and support services.  He works with employer, education, and governmental partners to address shared educational and community priorities.  He also serves on a number of local, state, and national organizations and Boards.

Gillespie grew up near Yakima, Washington.  He earned a Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Science in Agronomy (Crop Science) from North Dakota State University.  He attended Yakima Valley Community College and then transferred and received a Bachelor of Science in Agronomy from Washington State University.  He conducted agricultural research in the public and private sectors for ten years prior to beginning community college work as an agriculture faculty member.  Gillespie and his wife, Kristin, live in Ventura.

photo of Dr. Otto LeeDr. Otto W.K. Lee is President of Los Angeles Harbor College.  LA Harbor College is a comprehensive institution serving nearly 11,000 students with programs for transfer, career technical education, and community education. Under Lee’s leadership, the college has implemented many student success initiatives resulting in a significant increase in the number of certificates and degrees awarded. Prior to this position, Lee served as Vice Chancellor for Instructional Services and Planning at the San Diego Community College District.  He provided leadership for instructional programs, strategic planning, online education, workforce and economic development, and military educational programs of the district.  Previously, he served as Dean of the School of Business, Computer Studies and Technologies at San Diego Mesa College; Founding Director of the eBusiness Institute at Temple University; and taught engineering and business courses at the community college and university levels.

Lee earned an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Change from Fielding Graduate University,  a Master of Science in Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a Master of Business Administration from Pepperdine University, and a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from Polytechnic Institute of New York University.

Lee is actively engaged with numerous community and professional organizations.  He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Fielding Graduate University.  He also serves as a director of the National Asian/Pacific Islander Council (an affiliate of the American Association of Community Colleges), the Federal Employees Scholarship Foundation, the MIT Alumni Club, and Advisory Board of the Center for Innovation in STEM Education at California State University, Dominguez Hills.  Additionally, Lee was a member of the Community College League of California’s Commission on the Future.  In 2009, he was the recipient of the Asian Heritage Award for Educational Leadership.

photo of Dr. Melinda NishDr. Melinda Nish currently serves as the Executive Advisor to the President at the College of the Marshall Islands.  In this capacity, she has led the college in institutional integrity efforts, the removal of accreditation sanctions, and the approval process for its first baccalaureate program.  She has embraced this special assignment to learn the uniqueness of Micronesia and help the island nation build internal capacity in its only national institution of higher education.  Prior to this position, Nish served as Superintendent/President of Southwestern College from January 2012 to July 2016. During that time, the 55-year-old college experienced a rebirth. Construction programs are moving forward and academic initiatives are under way to help push Southwestern College into the top 10 percent of community colleges in California.  Prior to Southwestern College, Nish served as vice president of instruction at Orange Coast College and a member of the California Community Colleges Task Force on Student Success. The task force’s final report served as the basis for SB 1456—the Student Success Act of 2012.

Nish served as the Region 11 representative on the Board of the Chief Executive Officers of the California Community Colleges. She also has extensive experience in accreditation, having chaired two external evaluation teams (2014, 2016). Nish promotes Southwestern College’s workforce development through business and contract opportunities in Proposition R, is a member of the Board of Directors for the South County Economic Development Council and serves on the executive committee of the San Diego County College and Career Readiness Consortium.

A native of Salt Lake City, Nish earned a Doctorate in Education from the Fielding Graduate University, a Master of Arts in Economics, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, and a Certificate of International Economics from the University of Utah. She studied French language and translation at the University of Nice, France.

photo of Mr. Arturo ReyesMr. Arturo Reyes is in his fifth year as the Superintendent/President at the Mendocino-Lake Community College District. He has more than thirty years of service and experience in California’s public education system at both the high school and community college level. Prior to his current role as CEO at Mendocino College, Reyes served as the Executive Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs at the Solano Community College District. In addition, he has served as the Interim President and Vice President of Academic Affairs at San José City College, and as a Dean at the California Community College Chancellor’s Office in Sacramento.  It was there that he held leadership roles in Academic Affairs/Workforce Preparation and Economic Development.  Reyes also served as the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at Cosumnes River College for seven years, following his time as a tenure-track Spanish instructor and assistant soccer coach.

Reyes is in the dissertation phase of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership at the University of California, Davis, having earned his Master of Arts in Education and Administrative Services credential at California State University, Sacramento, where he also participated in the Bilingual Leadership Training Program, and received dual Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and Spanish. Reyes also holds a secondary teaching credential from the University of California, Davis.

In his tenure at Mendocino College, district accomplishments include sustaining strong FTES in a declining enrollment environment, creating dual enrollment agreements with all feeder high schools in the region, completing the acquisition of territory and an educational center from a neighboring District, partnering with the Butte County Office of Education to provide state-wide online teacher preparation training to university students, continuing the College Assistance Migrant Program, attaining HSI designation, and increasing Mendocino’s Native American and Latino student enrollments and services.  Reyes is a lifelong California resident. He and his wife Lidia have been married for thirty years. They have two sons.

“On behalf of the Board, we look forward to learning more about the candidates who have been vetted to move forward in the final phase of the hiring process for Chancellor,” stated VCCCD Board Chair Bernardo Perez.  “We invite members of the community, college staff and anyone interested to attend the public forum Monday, March 20,” added Perez.  “We are making progress towards selecting the next Chancellor to lead the District in serving the educational needs of Ventura County,” added Vice Chair Arturo Hernandez.


The Ventura County Community College District is a member of the 113-campus California Community College system, and serves more than 50,000 students annually.  The District’s three colleges- Moorpark, Oxnard, and Ventura- offer programs in general education for degrees and certificates, transfer to four-year colleges and universities, career technical education, and provide opportunities to engage in co-curricular campus activities.  For more information, please visit www.vcccd.edu.

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