Three vie for top Cuesta College post

Gil Stork
Gil Stork

The search for a new president to lead Cuesta College has been narrowed to three finalists, including interim Superintendent Gil Stork.

The other two candidates, Willard Lewallen and Ed Knudson, each have more than 20 years of experience in higher education. The three finalists were selected from a pool of 30 applicants by a nine-person committee. The San Luis Obispo County Community College District Board of Trustees is expected to announce its decision in early December. The salary range for the position is $185,000 to $220,000.

Stork was tapped by the college’s board of trustees to serve as interim superintendent and president of Cuesta College after former President David Pelham resigned in 2009 to take a job in Abu Dhabi.

Stork began his career with the college 43 years ago when he was recruited as an assistant football coach and physical education instructor. He later taught mathematics, filled two dean positions and served as the vice president of student services for 14 years.

He holds a master’s degree in mathematics from Cal Poly and a doctorate in educational administration from Brigham Young University.

Willard Lewallen has served as the president of West Hills College in Coalinga since 2007. He has 32 years of experience working in higher education, including 27 years working in the community college system.

Lewallen’s past experience includes working as counselor/academic adviser at Purdue University and Antelope Valley College. He later served as a faculty member, dean and vice president of student services.

Ed Knudson has worked in community colleges since 1993 in positions including faculty and department chair, dean and vice president of academic affairs. He was the executive vice president of student learning at Moorpark College. Knudson’s experience includes serving as the chief instructional officer and as the dean of economic and workforce development at Bakersfield College from 2002 to 2006.

A community forum is set from noon to 3 p.m. Tuesday in the Associated Students Auditorium, room 5401, for the public to meet the three finalists. Each candidate will have 50 minutes to introduce themselves and answer questions.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.