New Local College President Ready To Take On Challenges

Dr. Melinda Nish Takes Over Southwestern Community College District As President/Superintendent

Southwestern College has a new president and after only one day on the job, the new president has a possible scandal on her desk.

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Dr. Melinda Nish took over the Southwestern Community College District this week as its new president and superintendent. She replaces Dr. Raj Chopra, who resigned after a series of campus issues, including a disagreement over campus free speech rights and probation over administrative flaws.

Interim President Denise Whitaker got the ball rolling towards getting the school off probation. Now, Nish said she wants to carry that momentum.

"Really, to go from probation to a clean bill of health was amazing and this college deserves a lot of credit for doing that," Nish told 10News.

She said Southwestern College now needs to embrace the changes that got the district off probation.

"So it's not just a report," she said. "What it is -- is a behavior."

One of Nish's first tasks will be to see the district through an internal investigation that is paralleling a San Diego District Attorney's Office probe into unethical -- possibly illegal -- behavior between former administrators in her district, Sweetwater Union High School District board members and local construction companies who were awarded million-dollar building contracts.

In late December, district attorney investigators raided the homes of several Sweetwater District board members and construction executives last month. Nish said she was informed about the investigation in November before she took office and before the raids.

"So I knew that there were questions," said Nish. "I knew that we were looking at how different issues had been addressed by previous administrators."

Nish added, "If we discover that we have done anything that we consider to be incorrect or unethical, we will fix that and we will do that in an open and transparent manner."

She said some current building contracts could be canceled if she learns they were created inappropriately.

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