CCC presidential search narrowed to five finalists

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Another milestone has been reached in the search for the next president of Coconino Community College.

On August 11, the CCC District Governing Board reviewed the 40 applications received from throughout the country. The Board identified five finalists.

The finalists are:

Dr. Susan Bigelow

Dr. Bigelow serves as the Vice President for External Relations and economic development at Northern Wyoming Community College District (NWCCD) in Sheridan, Wyoming. She previously worked in economic development leadership for northeast Wyoming.  She earned an Associates of Arts and Sciences from Laramie County Community College, Wyoming; a Bachelor of Science in Electronic Engineering, California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo, California; a Master’s Degree in Business Administration at University of South Dakota; and a Doctor of Philosophy in Education and Human Resource Studies from Colorado State University. 


Dr. Russ Rothamer

Dr. Rothamer serves as the Vice President of Academic Affairs for Coconino Community College.   He previously worked as Dean of Business, Community Services, and International Education at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau, Wisconsin.   He earned an Associate of Arts degree from Santa Fe Community College; Bachelor of Arts, Master of Education, Specialist in Education, Master of Business Administration and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from the University of Florida. 


Dr. Colleen Smith

Dr. Smith serves as District Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs for Collin College in McKinney, Texas.  She was previously President/Chief Executive Officer for Cisco College.  She earned Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree from Texas A & M University and a Ph.D. from Texas Woman’s University. 


Dr. Christopher Villa

Dr. Villa serves as the Vice President of Student Services at Fresno City College in Fresno, California.  He was previously Vice President of Student Support Services at Long Beach City College.   He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social Ecology from the University of California, Irvine; a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Southern California; and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy from the University of Utah. 


Dr. Sherry Zylka

Dr. Zylka serves as Provost at Wayne Community College District in Detroit, Michigan.  She previously served as an Administrative Intern with the American Association of Community Colleges as part of her doctoral program.  She earned an Associate of Arts and Science degrees from Schoolcraft College; a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Michigan; a Master of Arts in Education Administration from Eastern Michigan University; and Doctorate of Education in Higher Education Administration from the University of Texas at Austin. 

The forum and interview schedule is as follows:

Page Instructional Site

Monday, Aug. 24: 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (Finalists Zylka, Rothamer, and Bigelow)
Tuesday, Aug. 25: Noon-1 p.m. (Finalists Villa and Smith)

Lone Tree Campus

Monday, Aug. 24: 5:30-7 p.m. (Finalists Zylka, Rothamer, and Bigelow)
Tuesday, Aug. 25: 9 a.m.-noon (Finalists Zylka, Rothamer, and Bigelow)
Tuesday, Aug. 25: 5:30-6:30 p.m. (Finalists Villa and Smith)
Wednesday, Aug. 26: 9-11 a.m. (Finalists Villa and Smith)

The CCC District Governing Board has contracted with the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) to assist the Board in the search process for a new permanent president to replace President Emeritus Dr. Leah Bornstein (2007-2015).

In July, the Board selected Veronica Hipolito, CCC Dean of Student Services, to act as interim president until the new permanent president has been selected. The Board anticipates having the permanent president selected sometime in September.

For more information on the candidates, photos and up-to-date information on the search, visit

About Coconino Community College

Student success is the heart and purpose of Coconino Community College. CCC provides affordable tuition and a wide variety of certificates and degrees including career/technical programs with more than 60 certificate programs and two-year associate degrees in various fields including nursing, fire science, law enforcement and business. The award-winning CCC2NAU program provides an innovative way to smooth a student's path toward a bachelor's degree at Northern Arizona University with tailored advisement and institutional collaboration, including access to amenities at NAU.

Since 1991, CCC has served residents across 18,000 square miles of Coconino County. CCC has helped create the region's skilled workforce, which is improving overall health, safety and the economy in the region. Today, CCC serves more than 7,500 students per year with two campuses in Flagstaff.

CCC reaches out to the more rural portions of the County including Williams, the Grand Canyon/Tusayan, Page/Lake Powell, Fredonia, Tuba City and other remote areas on the Navajo, Hopi and Supai Tribal Lands. Instructional sites offer classes through online, in-person and Interactive Television classes to meet the needs of students in these rural and remote areas. Nearly 25 percent of CCC's students are Native American learners. 


Wednesday, 23rd September 2015

All Dates

  • Wednesday, 23rd September 2015