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Merced College Hires Two New Administrators  

June 15, 2006

Responding to the need to ensure continued growth in academic programs and technology, the Merced Community College District (MCCD) Board of Trustees has filled two crucial administrative positions. The Board announced during its June 13 meeting the hiring of a permanent Dean for the Los Banos Campus and a new Associate Vice President of Technology and Instructional Research.

Karyn Wiens, who has been the interim Dean of the Los Banos Campus since July 2005, will now assume this position permanently. Mike Cuchna will move into the new associate vice president position. Cuchna has been a Dean of Instruction for the past 12 years.

“Merced is fortunate to be able to fill these two critical positions with local residents,” said Dr. Benjamin Duran, President of Merced College. “Dean Wiens has done an outstanding job for us as interim dean of the Los Banos Campus. She will be able to continue her good work as we prepare to open a new campus in Los Banos. Associate Vice President Cuchna fills a void that has existed at Merced College for some time. His expertise and professionalism will enhance our campus immensely.

Wiens will be charged with leading the development of the new permanent campus, now in construction and expected to be completed in spring 2007. She will oversee a staff of 12 full-time and 40 part-time instructors, and 15 classified staff. Wiens will also take leadership roles in curriculum development, budget and fiscal management, and all aspects of instructional activities, including hiring of teaching staff. A wide variety of student services programs, including financial aid, counseling, disabled student services, student fees, student health services, as well as all aspects of operations and maintenance will fall under her charge.

“This is an exciting time to be in Los Banos with the prospect of building an entirely new campus,” Wiens said. “We have great community support and our staff shares a common vision of serving students on the Westside.”

Wiens has been employed with the Merced Community College District since 1980. She directed the Employer-focused Training Center prior to her interim Dean position. She has a bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences from Chapman University and a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Walden University. She currently lives in Merced with her two children.
Cuchna will oversee the MCCD’s institutional research, distance education programs, and will coordinate technological resources that will improve instruction and student services. In addition, Cuchna will oversee the student computer labs, and coordinate the budgets and technology infrastructure of various student services offices.

“We are becoming a data driven institution,” Cuchna said. “Our ability to do institutional research, to expand technology in all areas, and to rapidly respond to changing instructional needs will be determined by how well we utilize our electronic infrastructure and fiscal resources.”

Cuchna has been responsible for a wide variety of educational technology programs and services. He helped formulate the plans for what has become the College’s current computer network. He has co-chaired the Technology Master Planning Committee, which is responsible for computer hardware and software, and has assisted in the analysis of instructional class counts and other critical data. He holds a master’s degree in Physical Science and a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. He has completed coursework toward a doctorate in Educational Administration. A former classroom instructor, Cuchna lives in Merced with his wife Pauline.

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