Finalists named for Southern’s president job

Following a national search, Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College Board of Governors/Presidential Search Committee has identified four finalists and have invited each for campus visits next week.

The presidential finalists are, in alphabetical order:

Mr. James Buyea, Chief Information Officer at Jefferson Community College in Watertown, New York. Mr. Buyea has more than 14 years’ experience in higher education, 12 years in executive management, and 28 years in technical experience.

Dr. Robert E. Gunter, Vice President for Workforce Education at Arkansas State University Mid-South, West Memphis, Arkansas. Dr. Gunter previously served as Deputy Director for Career and Technical Education at the Arkansas Department of Career Education, Little Rock, Arkansas, and as Vice President for Workforce Technology at Mid-South Community College.

Dr. Lisa Larson, Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs for Hennepin Technical College in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She served as the interim president for North Hennepin Community College for two years.

Mr. Alton D. Scales, a consultant for Capitol Peaks Advising Advising in Tampa, Florida. He previously served as President of the Community College of Aurora in Aurora, Colorado; Campus CEO of Colorado Mountain College; Assistant Vice President of Student Services at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania; Vice President of Academic Affairs at Neosho County Community College in Chanute, Kansas; Director of Multicultural Affairs at the University of Kansas; and Director of Intercultural Services and Special Assistant to the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of North Texas.

“We received a tremendous amount of interest for this position, and the quality of these applicants certainly speaks volumes about Southern’s reputation for excellence,” Board of Governors/Presidential Search Committee Chairman, Tom Heywood said. “We are very fortunate to have four outstanding candidates who are eager to build on that reputation and lead Southern in its mission of providing a quality, affordable college education.”

Buyea and Larson will visit Southern on Tuesday, November 10; and Gunter will visit Southern on Wednesday, November 11. During each interview, the candidate will tour Southern’s Logan and Williamson campuses and meet with various constituent groups. A portion of each campus interview will be open to the public. Each finalist candidate is also scheduled for a final interview with the Presidential Search Committee, the Chancellor for Community and Technical College Education, and members of the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education.

Resumes for each finalist and a details for the campus visits are available at The candidate selected will replace Dr. Merle Dempsey who has served as interim president since President Joanne Jaeger Tomblin’s retirement in June.

The search committee has said it anticipates a new president could be on board in time for the start of the spring semester.


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