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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

SMCC Announces Finalists for Open President Position

Shortly after Dr. Ken Atwater left South Mountain Community College last April to accept a similar position at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Fla., a nationwide search for his successor began.

Late last month, the following four higher education professionals were named finalists:

  • Dr. Thom Baynum, who has served as president of Coastal Bend College in Texas since 2007. He previously served as vice president of academic affairs at Palo Alto College, in San Antonio, Texas.
  • Dr. Silvia Patricia Rios Husain, who has served as vice president for student services and enrollment management at Gaston College, in Dallas, N.C., since 2008. She previously served in administrative positions at a number of community colleges in Florida.


  • Dr. Lorraine Morales, who is vice president of student development at Pima Community College’s West Campus, in Tucson, Ariz. Her previous experience includes positions at Western New Mexico University, University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University and Sonoma State University.
  • Dr. Shari L. Olson, who has served as interim president at Anoka Technical College, in Anoka, Minn., since last June. She previously was system director for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities at the Office of the Chancellor.


According to Rob Price, director of marketing/public relations at SMCC, an executive recruitment firm was hired to help promote the open position, resulting in applicants from around the United States. The firm then narrowed down those candidates by determining which ones best matched the job requirements.

After that list was received by staff at the Maricopa Community Colleges District and SMCC, another review process reduced the number of applicants again.

On Feb. 10, the four finalists will visit the SMCC campus. The public is invited to meet them and ask questions during a series of public forums starting at 4 p.m. in Room 100 of the college’s Student Union.

Time dedicated for each finalist will be divided into 40-minute segments.

4 p.m.: Dr. Thom Baynum

4:40 p.m.: Dr. Silvia Patricia Rios Husain

5:20 p.m.: Dr. Shari L. Olson

6 p.m.: Dr. Lorraine Morales

“The public is invited because we want everyone to come and talk to these finalists,” Price said “The college is a key part of the South Mountain Village and we want everyone to have a voice in this.”

On Feb. 11, the candidates will participate in individual interviews with Dr. Rufus Glasper, chancellor of the Maricopa Community Colleges, as well as the district’s executive leadership. After this process, Glasper will determine how to proceed.

“He might narrow it down to a single finalist or he might narrow it down to two or three that he still wants to explore further,” Price explained. “Typically, what he’ll do is then visit the colleges they’re currently employed at and kind of do a scouting mission there.”

Price said a new president won’t likely be in place until May or June. Dr. Joyce K. Elsner, who’s been at SMCC since 2003, will continue serving as interim president until the open position is filled.


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