Saddleback College elects new president starting January 2019

After a long search for a president, Dr. Elliot Stern is the winning choice

From left to right: Gregory Anderson, James Buysse, and Elliot Stern





Dr. Elliot Stern is the new president of Saddleback College starting mid- January 2019, therefore replacing interim president James Buysse. Searching for a new president became nationwide as Tod Burnett retired after nine years and interim president Denise Whittaker takes his place until Gregory Anderson was selected as full-time president at Saddleback but after seven months as president he resigned which lead Buysse to fill in his position.

Burnett retirement was the domino effect that lead to Saddleback searching for a permanent replacement for president. Whittaker became interim president in summer of 2017 immediately after Burnett left. Then, SOCCCD unanimously elected Anderson, but he resigned as president in April as he must return home in the Bay Area for “personal circumstances” said in an email to the Saddleback community. Buysse was elected vice president of Saddleback College only a month before Anderson left, making him the interim president until November when SOCCCD elects Stern as president starting spring semester.

Community colleges have a place in Stern’s heart because of his attendances at Oakland Community College before attending Wayne State University for his Pre-medicine degree. From there, he went to Michigan State University and graduated with a Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine. To obtain his law degree, Dr. Stern received a Juris Doctor at University of Michigan Law School.  

“I actually created my own ‘Running Start’ program by going to Oakland Community College to do my English 101 class because I was so unhappy in high school,” according to a student article at Green River College Stern said in a questioning session as he was a finalist in becoming president of this school. “There, I found I liked school again.”

Saddleback is not the only community college that Stern has worked at. Stern started as a Biology teacher at Shoreline Community College and worked his way to the Dean of Allied Health at Everett Community College for 10 years. According to Lake Washington Institute of Technology staff biography, Stern is “recognized for excellence in teaching and student-centered approaches.” He then became Dean of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math at Edmonds Community College. Stern created an Honors program at Everett and managed budgets over his two years at Edmond.

“I am excited to join a great college like Saddleback in our mission to enrich the lives of our students and our community,” said Dr. Stern in a press release by Letitia Clark, district director of Public Affairs and Government Relations at SOCCCD. “I knew that I belonged at Saddleback when I walked into Open Forum to be met by smiling faces, warm hearts, and thoughtful questions reflecting student-centered values and a common desire to go from great to greater in this work we do together—to transform the lives of our amazing students.”