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V6I1: Welcome New Presidents


President, Elizabeth “Betsy” R. Cantwell, Utah State University

Dr. Elizabeth “Betsy” R. Cantwell became president of Utah State University on August 1, 2023. Dr. Cantwell previously served as senior vice president for research and innovation at the University of Arizona.

Dr. Cantwell moved to the University of Arizona from Arizona State University, where she served as VP for research development and CEO of the ASU Research Enterprise, a 501.c.3 dedicated to translating research. Prior to Arizona State University, Dr. Cantwell served at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as director for economic development and director for engineering mission strategy.

Dr. Cantwell is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School (MBA, 2003); the University of California, Berkeley (Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, 1992); and the University of Chicago (BA, Human Behavior 1976).


President, Ann Cudd, Portland State University

Dr. Ann Cudd was named president of Portland State University, effective August 1, 2023. Prior to Portland State, Dr. Cudd served as Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor at the University of Pittsburgh. She also served as Boston University’s Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Cudd holds three advanced degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, including a doctorate of philosophy and master’s degrees in philosophy and economics. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and philosophy from Swarthmore College.


Acting President, Sayumi Irey, South Seattle College

Dr. Sayumi Irey became South Seattle College’s acting president on September 1, 2023. Prior to becoming acting president, she served as vice president of instruction at South Seattle College since 2019. She came to South Seattle College from Bellevue College, where she was the interim vice president for diversity.

Dr. Irey holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership and Policy from the University of Washington.


Interim President, Kevin LaCoste, Clatsop Community College

Kevin LaCoste was named interim president of Clatsop Community College, effective August 1, 2023.

Mr. LaCoste spent over two decades as regional president at U.S. Bank in Astoria before retiring last year. He also serves on the college’s budget committee and the Friends of the Astoria Column board. He was elected in May to the Seaside School District Board.


President, Kenneth Lawson, Columbia Gorge Community College

Dr. Kenneth Lawson became Columbia Gorge Community College’s president on August 1, 2023. Prior to coming to Columbia Gorge, Dr. Lawson served as the vice president for instruction at Skagit Valley College. He has also served as a full-time faculty and dean of the Social Sciences/Equity and Social Justice division at Shoreline Community College, and dean for the Humanities and Social Sciences at Seattle Central College.

Dr. Lawson has a doctorate in political science from the University of Washington and a Master of Arts and Bachelor of Science in political science from the University of Utah.


President, Alvin “Trip” F. Meredith III, Brigham Young University Idaho

Elder Alvin “Trip” F. Meredith III became president of Brigham Young University – Idaho on August 1, 2023. Prior to this appointment, Elder Meredith was serving in the presidency of the Church’s Middle East/Africa North Area and as a member of the Church Educational System Interview Committee. He will continue to serve as a General Authority Seventy.

Elder Meredith holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from BYU and an MBA in finance from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.


President, Carli Schiffner, Grays Harbor College

Dr. Carli Schiffner became the president of Grays Harbor College, effective July 3, 2023. She previously served as the deputy executive director of education at the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC).

Prior to her work at the SBCTC, Dr. Schiffner served in progressive leadership positions in Washington State, including Vice President of Instruction at Wenatchee Valley College and Dean of Arts and Sciences at Yakima Valley College, and in New York State as Chief of Staff, Provost, and Interim President at the State University of New York, Canton.

Dr. Schiffner earned a Bachelor of Arts in history and political science from Gonzaga University, a Master of Arts in cultural and intellectual history from Drew University, and a Ph.D. in American History from Washington State University.


Interim President, Rachel Solemsaas, North Seattle College

Dr. Rachel Solemsaas has been named interim president of North Seattle College, effective September 16, 2023.

Dr. Solemsaas served as chancellor of Hawai’i Community College on the Big Island for seven years. The college is part of a 10-campus system. She also served as chief financial officer or chief business officer at Truckee Meadows Community College in Nevada, and Bellevue College and Edmonds College in Washington. Prior to joining the community and technical college system, Dr. Solemsaas served Snohomish and King counties in various capacities in finance, related to public government, health and human services. In addition, Dr. Solemsaas served as a member of the NWCCU Board of Commissioners for almost three years.

Dr. Solemsaas earned a doctorate of education with an emphasis on community college leadership from Washington State University and a master’s in public administration from the University of Washington. She earned a bachelor of science in accounting from De La Salle University in Manila.


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