Michael Gutierrez

SALINAS VALLEY — Hartnell Community College District Governing Board on March 15 selected Michael Gutierrez, president of Sacramento City College, as the district’s new permanent superintendent/president, pending agreement on terms of his employment.

The Governing Board voted unanimously to pursue a contract with Gutierrez, one of three finalists for the position who visited Hartnell on March 11 to interview with trustees and participate in public forums. He will replace interim superintendent/president Steven Crow, formerly vice president of administrative services, who has served in that role since Jan. 17. The tentative start date is July 1.

Gutierrez has been president of Sacramento City College since 2017 and previously served as executive vice president of Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas, from 2009-17. Prior to his work at Eastfield College, he was executive dean of arts, humanities and social science at Mountain View College from 2005-09. His other responsibilities have included being a faculty member at Richland College, dean of resource development and Title V director at Mountain View College and assistant to the president at Palo Alto College.

Gutierrez serves on the board of the National Community College Hispanic Council and is a board member for the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), including as co-chair for the AACC Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. He also has served as chair for the Advisory Board for Ensuring Equity in Policy Implementation in California’s Community College at the USC Race and Ethnicity Center. 

In 2018, Gutierrez was a UC Davis Wheelhouse fellow, and in 2016 he was an inaugural participant in the Aspen Rising Presidential Fellows program.

Currently completing a doctorate in educational leadership at the University of the Cumberlands (Ky.), he holds a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Texas, and bachelor’s degrees in history and Latin American studies, from Princeton University. He began his college experience as a first-generation, dual-credit student at Palo Alto College in San Antonio, Texas, after attending the second most impoverished high school in Texas.

Sacramento City College, one of four colleges in the Los Rios Community College District, serves more than 20,000 students at the Main Campus, Davis Center, West Sacramento Center and online. Gutierrez has worked at four Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) during his 24-year community college career. Sacramento City College is an HSI and an Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI).

Gutierrez said he upholds a philosophy that students achieve the greatest success when their educational institution engages them at high levels both inside the classroom and out. He also worked throughout his career to strengthening his knowledge about diversity, equity, and anti-racism (DEIA). Each institution where he has served has achieved success by creating an environment where students feel welcomed and connected to the campus community, Gutierrez said.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to join Hartnell College and become part of the Salinas Valley community,” Gutierrez said. “I really can’t wait to get started and make connections with the students, employees and people throughout the Hartnell district.”

Governing Board President Erica Padilla-Chavez said Gutierrez is “an outstanding leader who will help us maintain our college’s tremendous progress and momentum — at our new education centers, in the success of our students and in meeting the challenges of a world that is changing more rapidly than ever.”

“Throughout his career,” she said, “he has demonstrated a commitment to always putting students first in his decision-making and an understanding of what it means to embrace diversity and advance equity for our entire community.”

After a nationwide search coordinated by Community College Search Services, a board-appointed search committee recommended finalists for board consideration. The other finalists were Brian Sanders, vice president of instruction for Columbia College (Sonora, Calif.) since 2016, and Christopher Villa, president of Portland Community College from 2018-20 and a former vice president of student services at Los Angeles Mission College and Fresno City College.

The 17-member search committee was composed of: the Governing Board’s student trustee, a Governing Board member, a representative of the Associated Students of Hartnell College, two representatives of the college’s Academic Senate, one representative of the Hartnell College Faculty Association, three representatives of the classified staff, three representatives of college management personnel and five community members, to comprise representatives of K-12 education, the Hartnell College Foundation, the Salinas Valley workforce sectors of agriculture and nursing/allied health and the Five Cities group of Salinas Valley communities.

More than 150 people attended the finalists’ public forums either in person or online. Gutierrez concluded his 45-minute presentation with a reflection on what he called “the power of leading through listening.” He said gained a new perspective on leadership as a result of an outpouring of support he and his family received after he survived a near-fatal car accident in the fall of 2019.

“The community and college response, the random acts of kindness, it was humbling for me,” Gutierrez said, “and it really started to change how I listened by being in the moment. I thought I was a good listener already, but clearly I could have gotten better, and I have gotten better.”

He also said seeing the college rally behind him and in support of its collective work on behalf of students. 

“I figured out that I can’t go at it alone,” Gutierrez said, “and as your superintendent/president, I will lead by listening — by being present — and understand that by doing everything together, knowing that we need to this collectively, we are more powerful together, we will connect with our community and succeed in what we want to do.”

Article submitted by Scott Faust, Communications Director for Hartnell College.

Previous articleWorthy to Print Column | Secrets and Confession
Next articleBaseball | Soledad and King City split season series
A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here