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College of Marin selects internal candidate as president

October 26, 2023

College of Marin trustees have selected a top administrator at the school as its next president.

Jonathan Eldridge, a San Rafael resident, was one of three finalists for the job. He will replace David Wain Coon in January.

“Dr. Eldridge has served College of Marin as vice president for over 10 years and has led some of the college’s most significant collaborative initiatives,” Coon said. “I am confident in his ability to successfully lead the college in its post-pandemic era and look forward to updates from the other side of the podium at the centennial celebration in 2026.”

Eldridge’s appointment is pending a final vote by the trustees on Tuesday. His starting salary and other contract details will be released then, according to Nicole Cruz, the college’s communications director.

“I am thankful to the board for the opportunity to serve as the 11th president of College of Marin,” Eldridge said. “The stability the college has enjoyed thanks to Dr. Coon’s leadership and the board’s stewardship positions us well for great things to come. I am honored to have the opportunity to help our talented and dedicated faculty, staff, students and administrators realize the full power of our impact for Marin and beyond.”

Eldridge, who leads both the academic and student services divisions, said he is excited to be taking over leadership at what he called “a unique moment in time.” In 2026, the college will celebrate its centennial and coincidentally launch new educational and strategic plans, Eldridge said.

“We get to reflect on the past 100 years at the college — the legacy that’s been built up — and also decide what the next 100 years will look like,” said Eldridge, 54. “That’s obviously a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all of us associated with the college and everyone in Marin to help ensure that College of Marin continues to be a preeminent hub of higher education and meets the diverse needs of everyone in the county.”

Also in 2026, the college will complete its last major Measure B bond construction project: the learning resources center and library at the Kentfield campus.

Eldridge has been involved in significant initiatives at the college, including expanding collaboration with K-12 schools, developing career technical education paths and coping with enrollment fluctuations during the pandemic.

“This fall, we have 1,009 more students enrolled with the college than we did last year,” he said. He said that was about a 20% increase.

“We are seeing students come back from the pandemic, and, because of the efforts we’ve made with our K-12 partners, our community partners and with industry and others, we’re seeing new enrollment as well,” Eldridge said.

Of Eldridge, college board president Diana Conti said she and the other trustees are “looking forward to working with him in his new role” and building on the work Coon’s administration.

“Dr. Coon is leaving us with quite an impressive legacy and a strong foundation for the leadership of our next superintendent and president to take us even farther in fostering student success,” Conti said.

Prior to coming to College of Marin, Eldridge was vice president for student affairs at Southern Oregon University. He also was dean of students at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and an educator at the University of Washington.

At College of Marin, Eldridge has worked on programs to support low-income students and those who are the first generation in their families to attend college.

He has also developed, expanded and nurtured partnerships with local nonprofits, foundations and academic institutions. Those include 10,000 Degrees, Canal Alliance, the Marin Community Foundation, school districts, Sonoma State University, Dominican University of California and the Marin Economic Forum. Eldridge serves on the boards of 10,000 Degrees and the Marin Economic Forum.

Eldridge has a bachelor’s degree in history from Central Washington University, a master’s degree in education from Colorado State University and a doctorate in organizational change and leadership from the University of Southern California.

Eldridge said being a Marin resident helps him to understand local needs. His daughter is a fifth-grader in the Miller Creek School District. His wife, Rima DasGupta, is a department chair and professor at Santa Rosa Junior College.

“In Marin County, we have a responsibility to make sure that every person has access to high-quality education,” Eldridge said. “We take that role very seriously.”

The other finalists for the position were Kimberlee Messina, president of Spokane Falls Community College in Washington state, and Luis Pedraja, president of Quinsigamond Community College in Massachusetts.

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