Kerry D. Romesburg, leader of Alaska's higher education system for the past 12 years, took over Monday as Utah Valley Community College's new president.

Romesburg replaces former UVCC President J. Marvin Higbee, who resigned nine months ago after disclosures that he spent school money for personal phone bills and family country club use. Lucille Stoddard, vice president of academic affairs, has been acting college president since Higbee's resignation."I am very impressed by the partnership Utah Valley Community College has established with the community and with the state," Romesburg said.

"A community college must respond to community needs. It must strike a critical balance in serving the vocational-technical training needs of the students at the same time it provides general education classes for those students who want to transfer to a four-year institution. One of these roles cannot suffer at the expense of the other."

Romesburg, an Arizona native, has spent a dozen years as the executive director of the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education. He has coordinated the state's 10 community colleges, three universities, three private colleges, three public vocational-technical schools and various private vocational colleges.

In addition, Romesburg directed facility expansion and budget requests and administered Alaska's $434 million student loan portfolio as well as federally funded programs. He has been chairman of the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education, which coordinates the higher educational interests of the western states.

Romesburg has shown national leadership on vocational education. Six months ago, he challenged his peers in other states to boost vocational education up on the higher education agenda. He led Alaska in establishing better coordination of public and higher education vocational offerings and in avoiding duplication of courses.

"Interacting with students in the classroom is the best way to get your finger on the pulse of what's happening on campus," said Romesburg, who began his career teaching high school math in 1967. "It's a way of taking measure of whether students' needs are being met and what can be done to serve them better."

Romesburg also has taught math on the college level and said he hopes to teach at UVCC. His wife, Judy, is an educator as well, teaching junior high school English and language arts. They have two sons, Rod and Don.