Merced College

Merced College chooses new president

Merced College on Wednesday named Ron Taylor as its sixth president.

Taylor, 61, is the superintendent-president of Feather River College in Quincy. The Merced College board of trustees on Tuesday voted unanimously to select Taylor among four finalists.

His annual base salary will be $219,000, and he’s scheduled to take the reins at Merced College on July 23.

Taylor said the two main issues he would like to address or find better ways to deal with are the college’s budget challenges and accreditation. He said these are difficult times for any community college, and Merced College is no different. “We are going to have to come together as a college and identify specific things that can be done without a lot of money,” he said. “That can be difficult, but it’s doable.”

Last year, Ben Duran announced that he would retire as Merced College president effective Dec. 31, 2011. In December, the trustees voted to approve a proposal to bring Duran back as interim president while it searched for a replacement.He agreed to be full-time interim president from Jan. 1 to July 1. Duran, whose base salary was $220,000, receives retirement benefits on top of a reduced salary of about $78,000 for his interim duties.When those duties end, he’ll serve as an on-call consultant for the new president through October.

The other three candidates were Jim Riggs, a professor of community college education at California State University, Stanislaus; Angela Fairchilds, president of Woodland Community College; and Steve Maradian, interim president at Lake Tahoe Community College District.

Duran said Taylor brings years of experience from working at colleges of different sizes and in varying capacities. Taylor also has been involved in statewide committees and task forces that have been instrumental in improving student success, he added.

“I think he has all the skills that will be needed to continue to move the college forward,” Duran said.

Robert Haden, chairman of the search committee, said his team did a terrific job interviewing candidates and narrowing the list to four finalists. He said the committee is thrilled to have Taylor as the new leader of Merced College.

The committee also appreciates the work that Duran has done over the years as the college president, he said.

“I hope he’ll continue the great work we’ve already done at Merced College, and that he will assist in getting us through the accreditation process and continue the good work at the college in these difficult economic times,” Haden said, who is also on the college’s board of trustees.

Taylor said his previous experience dealing with accreditation challenges at Feather River College in Plumas County northeast of Sacramento will be helpful in resolving accreditation issues at Merced College.

“Two or three years ago, the college was put on a warning status, quite similar to Merced (College),” he said. “We came off warning status through a lot of work — it was focused work.”

Taylor said his goal also will be to pull the campus together — faculty, staff and student leaders — to get behind an emphasis on student success. “This would be a long-term focus, but it’s important to focus on good outcomes for the students,” he said.

Duran said Taylor is a good fit for Merced College, “given the kind of student population that we have and the kind of college that we have.”

Aside from Feather River College, Taylor has worked at another rural campus in the San Joaquin Valley, at Reedley College. “He knows the Valley,” Duran said.

Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or


NAME: Ron Taylor

AGE: 61

PAY: Annual base salary will be $219,000

FORMER JOB: Superintendent-president of Feather River College

BEGINS NEW POST: On July 23, he takes over as president of Merced College.

EDUCATION: Associate of arts degree from Santa Rosa Junior College; master's degree and doctorate from UC Berkeley.

CAREER: Prior to serving as president at Feather River College, Taylor served as vice president of Academic Services at Chabot College, dean of instruction at Reedley College, and assistant dean of instruction for Letters and Social Sciences at Santa Rosa Junior College, according to Merced College. He began his teaching career in Kyoto, Japan, where he taught English and linguistics after earning his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley.

QUOTE: "We are going to have to come together as a college and identify specific things that can be done without a lot of money. That can be difficult, but it's doable."

This story was originally published June 21, 2012 12:54 AM.

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