MERCED -- Merced College on Wednesday named Ron Taylor as its sixth president.
Taylor, 61, is the superintendent and president of Feather River College in Quincy. The Merced College board of trustees on Tuesday voted unanimously to select Taylor from four finalists.
His annual base salary will be $219,000, and he's scheduled to take the reins at Merced College on July 23.
Taylor said the two main issues he would like to address or find better ways to deal with are budget challenges and accreditation. He said these are difficult times for any community college, and Merced College is no different.
"We are going to have to come together as a college and identify specific things that can be done without a lot of money," he said. "That can be difficult, but it's doable."
Last year, Ben Duran announced that he would retire as Merced College president effective Dec. 31, 2011. In December, the trustees voted to approve a proposal to bring Duran back as interim president while it searched for a replacement.
He agreed to be full-time interim president from Jan. 1 to July 1. Duran, whose base salary was $220,000, receives retirement benefits on top of a reduced salary of about $78,000 for his interim duties. When those duties end, he'll serve as an on-call consultant for the new president through October.
The other three candidates were Jim Riggs, a professor of community college education at California State University, Stanislaus; Angela Fairchilds, president of Woodland Community College; and Steve Maradian, interim president at Lake Tahoe Community College District.
Duran said Taylor brings years of experience from working at colleges of different sizes and in varying capacities. Taylor has been involved in statewide committees and task forces that have been instrumental in improving student success, he added.
"I think he has all the skills that will be needed to continue to move the college forward," Duran said.
Robert Haden, chairman of the search committee, said his team did a terrific job interviewing candidates and narrowing the list to four finalists. He said the committee is thrilled to have Taylor as the new leader of Merced College.
Taylor said his previous experience dealing with accreditation challenges at Feather River College in Plumas County, northeast of Sacramento, will be helpful in resolving accreditation issues at Merced College.
"Two or three years ago, the college was put on a warning status, quite similar to Merced (College)," he said. "We came off warning status through a lot of work it was focused work."
Taylor said his goal also will be to pull the campus together faculty, staff and student leaders to get behind an emphasis on student success. "This would be a long-term focus, but it's important to focus on good outcomes for the students," he said.
Duran said Taylor is a good fit for Merced College, "given the kind of student population that we have and the kind of college that we have."
Aside from Feather River College, Taylor has worked at another rural campus in the San Joaquin Valley, at Reedley College. "He knows the valley," Duran said.