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The trustees of Southwestern College named a new superintendent on October 12. The selection of Melinda Nish came as a surprise to some who felt that interim superintendent Denise Whittaker was a shoo-in for the position

In her brief stint at the college, Whittaker was instrumental in rectifying a number of problems, including assisting in getting the college removed from probationary accreditation status. Board president Tim Nader said Whittaker had done much to “heal” the campus.

However, others at Southwestern had expressed concern that Whittaker would be another short-timer, as she indicated during candidate forums that she would only be available for two years.

Nish comes from Orange Coast College, where she has served as vice president of instruction since 2005. One criticism of former Southwestern superintendent Raj Chopra, whose contract was bought out last November, was that he had no experience at the college level.

Patricia Flores-Charter, a Southwestern learning disability specialist, said she is enthusiastic about the appointment of Nish. Flores-Charter said she attended all of the candidate forums and was impressed with Nish’s “interest in working at a place which values the students as well as all the employees.”

Flores-Charter also remarked on the efficiency and collegial interaction of the board since the election of two new members. “The campus atmosphere is like night and day since this time last year.”

Photo of Melinda Nish from orangecoastcollege.edu

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Visduh Oct. 19, 2011 @ 9:21 a.m.

One reason for the turnover in managerial positions, including the superintendent/president, at this school is the dysfunctional board. Strong candidates for top positions shun openings at schools that have been plagued by prior turnover and turbulence. Southwestern has been suffering bouts of dissension and bitterness going all the way back to the 70's. Anyone seeking a career in educational administration at the community college level would be well-advised to avoid that campus.

This new administrator will have to be a consensus builder in order to get the administration and the faculty pulling in the same direction. Is she up to the task, or will she just be another one of the series of heads of the school who came, grew frustrated and alienated, and left (or were fired?) In other words, is just another chapter in the sorry history of that school, or will it actually be remembered as a turning point?

I'm sure we'll be seeing more about Southwestern in the Reader in coming months and years.


Susan Luzzaro Oct. 19, 2011 @ 6:50 p.m.

Visduh, yes Southwestern needs a consensus builder. Have you seen the campus? It's quite beautiful; there are so many fine students, staff, faculty, programs--it should someday really work.


Visduh Oct. 19, 2011 @ 7:40 p.m.

I agree fully. But it should have worked far better than it did for many, many years. The racial divides in the board, the clowns the boards hired over the years (Chopra was only one of several), and a host of other messes and misconduct have held it back. Let's all expect great things of Nish and wish her the best. The college needs all the help it can get.


Founder Oct. 26, 2011 @ 3:11 p.m.

If Nish is really cool, she will immediately involve the Students, the Faculty and the Staff in the day to day operation of SWC...

Talk is cheap, but meeting with ALL the stake holders and inviting them with future decisions is where she will get either an A or an F...

Good Luck SWC


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