Candidate Forums

Updated May 11, 2011

Yakima Valley College we are excited to announce we have completed our Vice President of Instruction and Student Services search. We are pleased to announce that Dr. Jennifer Ernst will join Yakima Valley College as our next Vice President for Instruction and Student Services effective July 1, 2021.

As previously shared, the college hosted open forums for both employees and students during the week of May 3rd. Our four finalists were invited to participate in an hour-long student and employee open forum.

Candidate Bios

Jennifer Ernst

Dr. Jennifer Ernst

Henry Ford College (Dearborn, Michigan)

Dr. Jennifer Ernst was the inaugural Dean of Henry Ford College’s School of Liberal Arts.  After attending her local community college, Dr. Ernst earned Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in English Literature and a Doctorate in Community College Leadership.  Dr. Ernst has nearly two decades of experience in Higher Education, including nine years as tenured faculty, and is an extremely active member in her local community.

Manuel Gomez

Dr. Manuel Gomez

Estrella Mountain Community College (Avondale, Arizona)

Dr. Manuel Gomez was the Vice President of Academic Affairs at Estrella Mountain Community College.  Dr. Gomez holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing, a Master’s Degree in Spanish, and a Doctorate in Spanish Literature and Culture.  Dr. Gomez has over two decades of experience in Higher Education and completed one year of post-doctoral studies in Community College Leadership that concluded with an internship.

Stephen Strom

Dr. Stephen Strom

Inver Hills Community College (Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota)

Dr. Stephen Strom is currently the Dean of STEM and Social Sciences at Inver Hills Community College in Minnesota.  He previously served as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and later as Associate Dean of Extended Studies & Workforce Development in the Community & Technical College at the University of Alaska Anchorage.  He holds a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in Education with a focus on Community College Leadership from Oregon State University, a Master of Science degree in Logistics Management from the Air Force Institute of Technology, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Clemson University.  Dr. Strom is also a veteran of the U.S. Armed Services and retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel.

Kerrie Cavaness

Ms. Kerrie Cavaness

Yakima Valley College (Yakima, Washington)

Kerrie Cavaness is currently the Dean of Arts and Sciences at Yakima Valley College and has over twenty years of experience in education in the Yakima Valley, including working at a Hispanic Serving Institution and the state level with the community and technical college system. Ms. Cavaness holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Community Health Education and a Master’s Degree in Education. She has participated in the ESCALA training and completed Washington State Leadership Training for Workforce Deans and the Washington Executive Leadership Academy (WELA).