Merced College on Tuesday announced the top five finalists for the open president’s position, with the formal choice to be made after a series of public forums with the candidates.
The finalists are Sean Hancock, vice president of instruction and student services at Palo Verde College in Blythe; Brian Ellison, vice president of instruction at Merced College; Matthew Wetstein, vice president of instruction and planning at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton; Chris Vitelli, vice president of student services at Merced College; and Orinthia T. Montague, vice president of student affairs at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minn.
Ellison, from the San Diego area, has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in sociology and a doctorate in educational leadership from University of La Verne. He was named to his current Merced College position in November 2015.
Hancock, described in a news release as a San Joaquin Valley native, earned his bachelor’s degree in management, a master’s degree in business administration and his doctorate in educational administration from University of the Pacific. He has been at his position at Palo Verde for two years.
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Montague, from Jamaica, earned a bachelor’s degree in communications, a master’s degree in counseling and her doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Missouri. She’s been in her current position for a year and a half, her LinkedIn profile shows.
Vitelli is enrolled in a doctoral program at Arizona State University, the news release says. He has a bachelor’s degree in agriculture education and a master’s degree in administration, planning and social policy from Harvard University. He’s held his Merced College position for nearly two years.
Wetstein is from St. Louis, Ill., and a member of the first class of Aspen Institute Presidential Fellows for Community College Excellence. He earned his doctorate from Northern Illinois University, according to his LinkedIn profile, and has held his position at San Joaquin Delta for three years.
Susan Walsh has served as the head of the college since February. In January, the board of trustees placed former president Ron Taylor on paid leave without explanation.
The public forums will be next week. On Tuesday, Oct. 25, the forums will begin with Hancock at 10 a.m., Ellison at 1 p.m. and Wetstein at 4 p.m. Forums will resume Oct. 26 with Vitelli at 10 a.m. and Montague at 1 p.m.
The public forums will be recorded and posted to the Superintendent/President search page at www.mccd.edu. Each forum is expected to last one hour.