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Administrative Profiles

Dr. Marie-Elaine Burns


Dr. Marie-Elaine Burns, an educational leader who is visionary, energetic, and passionate, was named President of Merritt College, effective July 1, 2017, after serving as interim president for the previous year. She came to Merritt from San Jose City College where she was the Vice President for Special Services. While adaptable to change, Dr. Burns is a risk taker/entrepreneur; not afraid to explore an idea different from her own or to encourage others to try their ideas. She encourages and supports innovation and creativity. Dr. Burns’ leadership style is characterized by respect, inclusiveness, transparency, collaboration, effective listening skills, and participatory governance. She is committed to equity and student success. Click here for full bio

 Dr. David M. Johnson

Vice President of Instruction

Dr. David M. Johnson has been named Vice President of Instruction at Merritt College as of January 2019. He comes to Merritt from Las Positas College in Livermore, CA, where he served as Interim Vice President of Academic Services. In that position, he was responsible for the enrollment management, academic compliance, budget supervision, and overall instructional support for 120 degree, transfer, and certificate programs. He also worked closely with the faculty, staff, and administration to ensure that the institution me accreditation standards were aligned with state initiatives. (Click here for full bio)

Christine Hernandez

Vice President of Student Services

Christine Hernandez began serving as Vice President of Student Services at Merritt College on January 3, 2018. The breadth and scope of her more than 15 years experience in the area of student services reflects a focus on collaborative partnerships, educational leadership, federal grant management, state and local compliance, budgeting, staffing, development and implementation of administrative policy, and use of technology to streamline business processes to enhance services to students. Most recently she served as Dean of Financial Aid and Student Services at Sacramento City College. Click here for full bio.

Dr. Rick Ramos

Dean of Allied Health and Public Safety (Division III)

Dr. Rick Ramos is the son of a Mexican immigrant and the first in his family to attend college. He was raised in Richmond, California. His first experience at a community college was in his senior year in high school when he cut class to see Santana perform at Contra Costa College. While at this concert a counselor gave him a flyer and encouraged him to enroll in classes. He enrolled the next semester. Rick states that his college experience was difficult because he did not have the social capital to support college experience. He was fortunate to find a faculty member that mentored him. The kindness and support shown to him helped him complete an AS Degree and land a job with the Berkeley Police department. (Click here for full bio)

Jason Holloway, M.S.

Dean of Mathematics, Science, and Applied Technology (Division II)

Jason Holloway was named interim Dean of Mathematics, Science, and Applied Technology at Merritt College in July 2017. He previously served as the co-chair of Math and Physical Sciences. Jason’s goal is to increase the number of minorities who can compete for jobs in STEM fields with the understanding that there are varying levels of math competence needed to be successful in their careers. Because of this, he is committed to reforming the academic pathways from basic math to transfer level math courses, and he has been involved in curriculum development from a ‘student-centered’ perspective. Click here for full bio.

Dr. Lilia Chavez

Dean of Special Programs and Grants

Dr. Lilia Chavez is Merritt’s new  Dean of Special Programs and Grants, as of April 13, 2016. She joined the college in 2014 as the Director of Student Activities & Campus Life. She is a Chicana/Latina, Social and Spiritual Activist/Educator who seizes each opportunity to work with underrepresented, underprepared, and underserved communities. She has an extensive teaching and professional record. Dr. Chavez has worked as an educator, counselor, consultant, administrator, cultural broker, and spiritual guide. Click here for full bio

Dr. Syed Khaled Hussain

Dean of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

Dr. Syed Khaled Hussain was named Dean of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at Merritt College in April 2018. Prior to this, he was the Dean of Arts, Media, Business and Computer Science at Palomar College. He has a strong background in enrollment management, curriculum, accreditation, Guided Pathways, and budget. He has over 29 years of experience working and teaching in community colleges and strives to foster social justice and student-centered practices on campus. Dr. Hussain is an immigrant from Bangladesh and was born six months before a brutal war which saw the slaughter of 3 million innocent civilians, turned his family into refugees and liberated the nation. After the war his family returned to their destroyed country and started over, only to survive a devastating famine and multiple bloody military coups which led to life under martial law for many years. (Click here for full bio.)

Herbert Kitchen Pic-2 (1) Dr. Herbert Kitchen

Director of Student Activities and Campus Life 

Dr. Herbert Kitchen joined Merritt College as Interim Director of Student Activities and Campus Life on July 25, 2016. Dr. Kitchen is a veteran at the Peralta Community College District, having served over 20 years at the District Office in the Marketing, Communications and Media department as the Coordinator of Marketing. At Merritt, Dr. Kitchen is responsible for providing and coordinating opportunities for student leadership and development. He’ll work in collaboration with faculty, staff, and administrators to develop student leadership programs. Dr. Kitchen will serve as an advisor to the college student government and clubs and will engage and encourage the development of student groups with extracurricular and co-curricular engagement, including student activities, special campus student-led conferences, and culturally enriching events. (Click here for full bio.)

 Victoria Menzies 

Director of Business and Administrative Services

Victoria Menzies became the Director of Business and Administrative Services at Merritt College as of August 2018. With 25 years of experience in business and fiscal operations and a stellar reputation, it’s hard to believe that Vikki Menzie’s high school counselor steered her toward becoming a secretary. But in those days, clerical work was one of just a handful of careers paths that women went into. But it didn’t take long before Vikki’s abilities to go beyond secretarial skills became apparent. As a secretary for the defense contractor Gould, Inc., she was given the best advice of her life: get an education. “I was doing secretarial work, and I was also becoming familiar with programming and helping my bosses,” she says. “I was tired of taking notes and getting coffee. So when one of my bosses suggested I start taking college classes, I immediately enrolled at Mt. San Antonio College to study business.” (Click here for full bio)


Maria Spencer

Interim Dean of Educational Success

Maria A. Spencer was named Interim Dean of Educational Success at Merritt College in October 2017 under the Adult Education Block Grant. In that role, she assists in developing pathways for Adult Ed students and community members to move into higher education with a clear pathway towards a career. She also leads the development of noncredit/certificate programs for the college. Prior to that, she served as Student Personal Services Specialist, where she spearheaded outreach and recruitment for all four campuses, establishing the foundation for many of the events Peralta represents. Before that, she served as Financial Aid Supervisor at Merritt. (Click here for full bio.)