SMCCCD Welcomes Megan Barber Allende as Foundation Executive Director 

San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD) proudly announces the appointment of Megan Barber Allende as the new Executive Director of the San Mateo County Community Colleges Foundation (SMCCCF). With a distinguished career in community-based philanthropy, Megan brings a wealth of experience and a commitment to advancing educational opportunities for all.  

“I am honored to join the San Mateo County Community Colleges Foundation and contribute to its vital mission of supporting students in reaching their educational aspirations,” said Megan. “I am excited to collaborate with the Foundation team and our community partners to create meaningful opportunities for student success.”  

Megan joins SMCCCF following an impressive tenure as the President/CEO of the Community Foundation of Mendocino County, where she spearheaded substantial growth and operational excellence. During her eight-year leadership, she doubled the Foundation’s assets, tripled annual grantmaking, and positioned the organization as a pivotal force for community development, securing the charitable future of the under-resourced county in perpetuity.  

In welcoming Megan, San Mateo County Community College District Chancellor Melissa Moreno remarked, “Megan’s track record of success and her dedication to philanthropy make her an exceptional choice for leader of the Foundation team. Her energetic and positive outlook, coupled with her passion for community engagement and student success, will most certainly catalyze greater community support for our students and transform our Foundation into a premier philanthropic organization in the community college system. “  

Megan’s commitment to students is evident in her accomplishments, including significant expansions of scholarship programs for historically underrepresented and first-generation college students. Her appointment as Executive Director of SMCCCF positions her to build on this success and set ambitious goals for student achievement.  

Megan holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan, a Master of Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP®) certification from the American College of Financial Services.  

Megan will start her new position with the Foundation on July 1, 2024, pending approval by the SMCCCD Board of Trustees at their June 26 regular meeting. 

SMCCCD Colleges Award Over 4,300 Degrees and Certificates at Commencement

At three commencement ceremonies held on Friday, May 24, and Saturday, May 25, over a thousand students took to the stages at Cañada College, College of San Mateo, and Skyline College to celebrate their academic achievements. Districtwide, this year’s graduating class earned over 4,300 degrees and certificates which underscores the dedication and hard work of the District’s students, faculty, and staff. 

2023-24 Highlights 

  • 8 Bachelor’s Degrees: Among the notable achievements is awarding eight bachelor’s degrees, specifically for the Respiratory Care program at Skyline College.  
  • 1,508 Associate Degrees: A total of 1,508 associate degrees have been conferred, reflecting the commitment of students to pursue higher education and acquire essential skills for their future endeavors. 
  • 2,797 Certificates: Additionally, 2,797 certificates have been awarded, signifying proficiency and expertise in various fields of study. 
  • Age Diversity: The graduating class showcases an impressive age range, from the youngest graduate at 15 to the oldest at 78, demonstrating that education knows no bounds. 
  • Global Representation: 118 international students from 28 countries earned degrees and certificates, contributing to a diverse and vibrant learning environment. 
  • Out-of-State Students: 102 out-of-state students have received degrees and certificates, highlighting the District’s appeal beyond its immediate vicinity. 
  • Support for Veterans: The District is proud to recognize the achievements of 101 veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces who have earned degrees and certificates, demonstrating a commitment to supporting those who have served our country. 
  • DACA/Dreamer/AB540 Students:  110 DACA/Dreamer/AB540 students graduated, emphasizing inclusivity and accessibility in higher education. 
  • First-Generation College Students: An impressive 1,604 graduates are first-generation college students, breaking barriers and paving the way for future generations. 
  • Support for Foster Youth: The District celebrates the success of 22 foster youth who have earned degrees and certificates, showcasing resilience and determination in overcoming challenges. 
  • Support for Justice-Impacted Individuals: Thirteen incarcerated, formerly incarcerated, or justice-impacted individuals have graduated, underscoring the District’s commitment to providing opportunities for all community members. 
  • Academic Excellence: A total of 716 graduates have earned academic honors, including cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude distinctions, recognizing their exceptional academic achievements. 

The San Mateo County Community College District congratulates all 2023-24 graduates for their remarkable accomplishments and wishes them continued success in their future endeavors.  

Dr. Manuel Alejandro Pérez Named President of College of San Mateo 

College’s first queer-identified and Latino president brings passion for equity and student success.

Following a national search, San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD) Chancellor Melissa Moreno has announced that she will recommend Dr. Manuel Alejandro Pérez to the Board of Trustees as the next president of College of San Mateo (CSM). The Board of Trustees will take formal action on Dr. Pérez’s appointment at their meeting on May 22, 2024. 

“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Pérez to College of San Mateo,” said Chancellor Moreno. “He is a passionate leader who has demonstrated a deep commitment to underserved student communities with innovative programs to provide equitable and inclusive student experiences that engender their success. We are confident that he will lead CSM to new heights of excellence and innovation using an uncompromised collaborative and collegial approach.” 

Dr. Pérez brings 20 years of professional experience in higher education, from his doctoral work in education to his teaching work in social justice, international and multicultural studies, and the performing arts, to developing a career in the community college system, and now currently serving as the Vice President of Student Services at Cañada College. 

“I am honored and humbled to serve as the next president of College of San Mateo,” said Dr. Pérez. “I look forward to working collaboratively with the faculty, staff, students, and community partners to advance the mission and vision of this transformative institution. I am committed to fostering a culture of care, belonging, and excellence that supports the success and well-being of all our students, especially our historically marginalized and underserved communities.” 

Before joining SMCCCD, Dr. Pérez served as Interim Assistant Vice President for Equity & Community Inclusion at San Francisco State University. Before that, he served as the Dean of Student Development and Dean of Equity Programs & Pathways for American River College (ARC). 

Dr. Pérez holds a bachelor’s degree in communication studies with a minor in ethnic studies from Santa Clara University, a master’s degree in communication studies from San Diego State University, and a doctorate in education from the University of San Francisco, where he also teaches courses as part-time faculty. 

Dr. Pérez will start his new position on July 1, 2024. His selection is subject to approval of a written contract, whose terms will be available for public review before the May 22 board meeting. 

Melissa Moreno, J.D., Named Permanent Chancellor of SMCCCD

Second woman to serve as permanent chancellor in the District’s century-plus history after Dr. Lois Callahan, who retired in 1997.

Following a national search, the San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD) Board of Trustees announced their unanimous decision to select Melissa Moreno, J.D., as the next permanent Chancellor of SMCCCD, with an anticipated start date of April 25, 2024. 

“Chancellor Moreno is an innovative, dynamic, and collaborative leader who brings a strong vision for the future grounded by a demonstrated record of achievements,” said Board President John Pimentel. “Chancellor Moreno is an effective advocate for free community college for all San Mateo County residents. She’ll work closely with the board to prioritize improving student access, extend recent enrollment gains, and engage proactively with existing community organizations to reach communities who can improve their economic and career prospects through SMCCCD.”

Moreno has served as the District’s Interim Chancellor since April 2023. She has extensive executive-level experience with more than 18 years of progressive leadership roles in the community college system, beginning with the Santa Barbara Community College District. While there, she was the founding director of the national award-winning Scheinfeld Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Dean of the Business Division, and Vice President of the School of Extended Learning. 

She joined San Mateo County Community College District in 2020 as President of Skyline College and provided steady leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I am honored to have been selected to lead the San Mateo County Community College District and am grateful to the Board of Trustees for their trust and confidence,” said Moreno. “As a former California community college student, I deeply respect the transformational power that community colleges hold to change lives. I am committed to a vision that centers the needs of our students and ensures educational opportunities for families and their children in our communities that are historically marginalized and least likely to go to college.”

Moreno’s visionary track record will ensure the District continues to grow student enrollment, maintain fiscal health, build student housing, and meet local workforce needs with a focus on closing equity gaps within the region. 

Moreno holds a bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology from UC Santa Barbara and a Juris Doctorate from Santa Barbara College of Law. 

Chancellor Moreno’s appointment is pending the final ratification of her employment contract, which will be considered at the Board of Trustees meeting on April 24, 2024. 

Finalists Named for SMCCCD Chancellor

The San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD) has selected four finalists for its chancellor position. This announcement comes after a national search that fielded a highly qualified and diverse pool of candidates.  

A screening committee comprised of faculty, staff, students, administrators, a board member, and a community representative has recommended the following candidates to the Board of Trustees for consideration:  

  • Rudy Besikof, Ed.D., President of Laney College in Oakland 
  • Carlos Cortez, Ph.D., former Chancellor of the San Diego Community College District 
  • Melissa Moreno, J.D., Interim Chancellor of the San Mateo County Community College District 
  • Thuy Thi Nguyen, J.D., Partner at Garcia, Hernández, Sawhney LLP 

Dr. Besikof previously served as Vice President of Laney College in Oakland. He earned his doctorate as a 2010 graduate of UCLA’s Educational Leadership Program. 

Dr. Cortez previously served as President of San Diego College of Continuing Education (SDCCE) He earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University, a master’s degree from New York University, and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Southern California. 

Ms. Moreno previously served as the President of Skyline College in San Bruno. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a Juris Doctorate from Santa Barbara College of Law. 

Ms. Nguyen previously served as the President of Foothill College in Los Altos Hills. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Yale University and a Juris Doctorate from UCLA School of Law. 

Finalists will participate in prerecorded moderated forums that will be posted to the SMCCCD website by the end of the day on Friday, March 15.  These forums will allow the finalists to introduce themselves, share their vision and priorities, and respond to questions gathered from the campus community, including Academic Senate, Classified Senate, and Associated Students. Faculty, classified staff, administrators, students, and the public are invited to watch the forums and provide feedback on the finalists during the week of March 18. Forum recordings and feedback forms will be available until 11:59 pm on Friday, March 22. 

The SMCCCD Chancellor is responsible for all operations in a district with a nearly $500 million annual budget. The Chancellor oversees Cañada College, College of San Mateo, and Skyline College; assures that the District is administered in accordance with policies adopted by the Board of Trustees and state and federal regulations; and maintains a close working relationship with the community, K-12 and local higher-education systems, as well as local, state and federal officials. 

View finalist bios and more information about the search process at the Chancellor Search website

San Mateo County Community College District enrollment on rise

Officials look to understand influences on uptick for future sustained growth

By Sierra Lopez
The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.

The San Mateo County Community College District surpassed its enrollment goal this fall semester and trustees are now eager to understand what enabled that growth so it can be harnessed moving forward.

“Whenever we have a success like this we need to completely celebrate it but then also be mindful to understand what is it we did that really made that difference, and is that what needs to be done next or is there another shift or change that needs to be made,” board President Lisa Petrides said during a Board of Trustees meeting Oct. 25.

After years of enrollment declines, the district saw a 16% uptick in local students signing up for courses in the fall, according to data presented by Dr. Aaron McVean, vice chancellor of Educational Services and Planning. That increase does not include international students or dual-enrollment high school students.

Officials had initially expected to see a 15% increase in enrollment, or about 16,000 students in classrooms after enrollment also grew by 10% this spring compared to the spring of 2022. Both upticks in enrollment follow about a decade of concerning local and statewide dips.

McVean also highlighted other positive trends. The district saw a substantial increase in first-time students including the largest incoming Promise Scholars cohort in the program’s history.

The district saw a significant decrease in the number of students who have not declared their intent to earn a certificate, degree or transfer with a degree, also known as an “ACE” goal. By declaring a goal, students are provided access to more financial assistance and counseling services.

“To see such large increases in students connected to that goal means that they’re connected now to our programs and services and we hope that we will be able to see them through completion,” McVean said.

Increasing enrollment has been a specific focus for the district in recent years. It’s begun expanding its footprint into the coastside to encourage students to enroll in courses who may struggle to get to existing campuses. Officials also tapped the marketing firm VisionPoint Marketing for assistance with planning near- and long-term strategies for improving enrollment.

The district is also one of a few in the state piloting a free college program following the approval of Senate Bill 893. The bill took effect at the start of this year and allows the district to waive and use unrestricted funds to cover a state-mandatory $46 per unit enrollment fee for county residents.

Trustees are now eager to understand which of the recent changes or interventions have had an influence on improved enrollment. McVean said staff has planned to survey students soon but theorized reduced cost barriers were a major boost to enrollment.

Understanding the influence of each intervention would enable the district to further focus outreach efforts, trustees noted. The district does currently focus on target groups including the Filipino community, other minority groups, and those living in underserved communities but board Vice President John Pimentel noted enrollment among Black and Pacific Islander residents was extremely low, totaling just 243 students.

“There’s still a lot of opportunity and a lot of work for us to do with everything that we have been starting to do in a much more aggressive way,” Pimentel said. “Now is the time to really double down on that and hopefully that will improve these numbers for the fall even further.”

District Seeking Educational Housing Corporation Board Members 

The San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD) is seeking members of the public to serve as directors on the Educational Housing Corporation Board. The Board seeks to advance education by supporting SMCCCD in its efforts to attract and retain qualified educational employees by managing and operating affordable housing for such employees. 

Applications are now being accepted from any eligible person, 18 years or older, interested in filling a vacancy. Individuals with professional expertise in residential property management/operations, legal and/or financial experience in housing-related issues, or closely related experiences are encouraged to apply. The application form is available at the SMCCCD Educational Housing Corporation Board website and must be submitted by midnight, October 6, 2023. 

Applications will be reviewed at the next public Educational Housing Corporation Board meeting on October 19 at 3:00 pm. Following the review, the Educational Housing Corporation Board of Directors will submit recommendations to the SMCCCD Trustees for final appointments during their regular public Board of Trustees meeting on October 25 at 6:00 pm. 

Educational Housing Corporation Board Directors serve staggered four-year terms and may serve a maximum of two consecutive four-year terms. At least two, but not more than four, vacant positions are currently open.  

About the SMCCCD Employee Housing Program: In response to regional housing costs that are among the highest in the country, SMCCCD has undertaken initiatives to assist faculty and staff with high housing expenses. The District owns and operates 134 housing units at College of San Mateo, Cañada College, and Skyline College campuses, available to faculty and staff (who meet the definition of first-time homebuyers). Employees can live in these units for up to seven years and pay rent well below market rate.  Residents of the employee housing program are strongly encouraged to save the money from their reduced rent to apply toward a down payment to buy housing in the area.   

About San Mateo County Community College District: The SMCCCD is a three-college district located between San Francisco and San Jose in the Silicon Valley. The District’s three colleges, Cañada College, College of San Mateo, and Skyline College, serve more than 28,000 students each year and offer the first two years of instruction in a wide variety of degree and transfer programs, as well as vocational-technical programs. For more information: 

National Student Clearinghouse Data Breach

The San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD) was informed about a recent data breach at our third-party vendor National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) involving their MOVEit Transfer Application. NSC’s services are used by higher education institutions that distribute Federal Financial Aid as required by the Department of Education. 

The data breach didn’t impact SMCCCD information systems or WebSMART. 

SMCCCD shares data with the NSC, and some of that data includes personally identifiable information (P.I.I.). The NSC has not yet identified what sensitive information was accessed, and they continue investigating this breach. At this time, we do not know who has been impacted or what data has been lost. 

SMCCCD has received notice that our data submitted to NSC may be affected, and we are actively monitoring this situation to address any concerns that may arise. We will continue to gather information and provide updates as needed. 

Students and alumni impacted by this breach will receive separate notifications via USPS & email from the National Student Clearinghouse. 

In the meantime, SMCCCD students and alumni should protect their identity and personal information by taking the following steps: 

  • Monitor credit card and bank activity for suspicious activity and report it to your financial institution immediately. 
  • Pull your FREE credit reports through the Annual Credit which is authorized through the Federal Law. 
  • Consider placing fraud alerts and credit freezes on your accounts using Experian or Credit Karma
  • Avoid opening suspicious emails. 
  • Update your passwords frequently. 

More detailed information about the data breach can be found on the National Student Clearinghouse alert webpage.  

San Mateo County Community College District Board of Trustees Unanimously Appoints Skyline College President Dr. Melissa Moreno as Interim Chancellor

San Mateo, Calif., (February 23, 2023) – Last night, the San Mateo County Community College District Board of Trustees unanimously selected Dr. Melissa Moreno to serve as the District’s Interim Chancellor.

With over 25 years of higher education experience, Dr. Moreno most recently served as the President of Skyline College, a position she has held since August 2020.

“In Dr. Moreno, we have selected a higher education leader that is truly focused on the overall well- being of our students, and our valued team members,” said Dr. Lisa Petrides, President, San Mateo County Community College District Board of Trustees. “On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I would like to thank Dr. Moreno for her partnership, and for her steadfast commitment to our mission of making access to higher education a right for all in San Mateo County.”

Prior to serving as President of Skyline College, Dr. Moreno has held a myriad of positions within higher education that have led her from serving as adjunct faculty to Vice President. While serving at Santa Barbara City College, Dr. Moreno was the founding director of the Scheinfeld Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, one of the leading institutes for entrepreneurship in California, and as the founding Vice President of the School of Extended Learning.

“Having devoted the majority of my career to higher education, I am humbled by the trust bestowed upon me by the Board of Trustees,” said Dr. Melissa Moreno, Interim Chancellor, San Mateo County Community College District. “As the District’s newest caretaker, I will work with our stakeholders and community to ensure that our nationally recognized college district sets the example in our State for progressive and equitable educational opportunities for our most disproportionately impacted student populations that works to remove barriers to their success.”

Dr. Moreno holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and Juris Doctorate from Santa Barbara College of Law. She is also licensed to practice law in the state of California.

She will begin as Interim Chancellor on April 1, 2023.

San Mateo County Community College District Accepting Applications for Board Vacancy in Trustee Area 3

San Mateo, CA (January 13, 2023) – On December 13, 2022, Governing board member Goodman vacated his seat on the San Mateo County Community College District Board of Trustees creating a Board Vacancy for Trustee Area 3. At a Special Board Meeting on December 20, 2022, the San Mateo County Community College District Board took action to fill this vacancy by making a provisional appointment. The appointee will hold office until the next governing board member election, which occurs at the Statewide General Election in November 2024.

The Board approved a timeline and process at a Special Board Meeting on January 10, 2023. According to California Education Code 72103: Any person, regardless of sex, who is 18 years of age or older, a citizen of the state, a resident of the community college, a registered voter, and who is not disqualified by the Constitution or laws of the state from holding a civil office, is eligible to be elected or appointed a member of a governing board of a community college district without further qualifications.

Applications are now being accepted from any eligible person interested in filling this vacancy. Applications are available at: and must be submitted by Saturday, February 4, 2023. No late applications will be accepted.

All applicants who are eligible will be interviewed at a public Special Board Meeting on Wednesday, February 8, 2023, at 6:00 p.m. Following the interviews, the Board will appoint the provisional Board Member, and administer the Oath of Office.

About San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD): The SMCCCD is a three-college district located between San Francisco and San Jose in the Silicon Valley. Our colleges serve more than 20,000 students each year and offer the first two years of instruction in a wide variety of degree and transfer programs, as well as vocational-technical programs.

For more information: