Mark Sanchez has been named the new superintendent/president of Southwestern College. Courtesy photo.

Southwestern College will have a new person at the helm, as the college’s governing board selected Mark Sanchez as the institution’s next superintendent and president Wednesday.

The board announced its decision Wednesday after a six-hour closed session where they interviewed three finalists. Sanchez will replace Superintendent/President Kindred Murillo, who is retiring in March.

Sanchez currently serves as the assistant superintendent and 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.

According to the board, 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. That is my commitment, and that will be my focus as the next superintendent/president.”

Sanchez takes the helm of the college as it faces twin crises: a declining budget and decreasing enrollment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“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 Leticia Cazares, governing board president.

“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.

Sanchez grew up in San Diego and attended Southwestern College, where he earned his associates degree in general studies. He holds a bachelors degree in sociology from Point Loma Nazarene University, a masters in education administration and a doctorate in educational leadership from Cal State Fresno.

The Governing Board is currently negotiating a final contract with Sanchez and expects to vote on it at their Jan. 12 meeting.

— City News Service

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