Orange Coast College names new president

Angelica Suarez, currently vice president of academic affairs for Southwestern College in Chula Vista, has been named the next president of Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa. She will start in July.
(Courtesy of Orange Coast College)

Angelica Suarez will be the next president of Orange Coast College following approval of her contract by the Coast Community College District board of trustees on Wednesday, the college announced.

Suarez’s appointment follows the retirement of former OCC President Dennis Harkins, who was the third-longest-serving president in the seven-decade history of the Costa Mesa community college.

“I’m really excited to be coming onboard and look forward to working alongside faculty, classified staff, administrators, students and community members so we can continue to build on the many successes of OCC and write the next chapter for this campus,” Suarez said in an interview Thursday.

She will take over July 1 for interim President Kevin Ballinger, who will return to his role as vice president of instruction.

“I was very pleased by the selection and appointment by the Coast District board of trustees,” Ballinger said. “Orange Coast College is already a leader among community colleges. Dr. Suarez’s background and experience can only make OCC even better.”

Suarez’s contract is for three years with an annual salary of $232,527.

Angelica Suarez, the next president of Orange Coast College, appears Wednesday night at the Coast Community College District board meeting, where her contract was approved.
(Courtesy of Orange Coast College)

Suarez, whose education career spans more than 30 years, was selected following a national search that began in October.

She currently is vice president of academic affairs for Southwestern College in Chula Vista. She also has held several administrative and faculty positions at Southwestern College and at Wright College in Chicago.

The district will reimburse $10,000 for her relocation expenses.

“Dr. Suarez is recognized as a collaborative and inspiring leader who is focused on creating equitable and accessible pathways to higher education for all students,” district Chancellor John Weispfenning said in a statement. “She brings a depth and breadth of experience in student services and academic affairs to lead OCC into the future.”

Lorraine Prinsky, president of the board of trustees, said in a statement that Suarez was chosen for her “great passion” and experience with community colleges.

Suarez, a first-generation college student who immigrated from Mexico when she was 3, said she plans to engage with students and the campus community to “see what really excites them. What are the things they’re especially proud of?”

“I also want to make sure I’m familiar with the existing projects,” she said. “There’s an incredible amount of building and transforming at that institution, and I’m really excited about that and look forward to serving OCC.”

Recent and ongoing projects include a new planetarium, aquatic center and student housing complex.


This article was originally published at 2:20 p.m. and was later updated with additional information and comments.