Kerry D. Romesburg, leader of Alaska's higher education system for the past 12 years, was named president of Utah Valley Community College Wednesday morning.

"Dr. Romesburg has earned the respect of his peers regionally and nationally because of his unique balance of leadership and vision," said Utah State Board of Regent Chairman W. Eugene Hansen. "We feel privileged to have drawn him to Utah."Romesburg will assume the presidency in mid-July, filling a vacancy created when former UVCC President J. Marvin Higbee resigned after disclosures that he spent school money for personal phone bills and family country club use.

Acting President Lucille Stoddard will, in July, resume her previous post as vice president for academic affairs, said regents spokeswoman Vicki Varela.

Stoddard said she was puzzled, and a little bewildered, at not being one of five finalists for the college presidency but called charges of sexual bias speculative.

Romesburg is executive director of the Alaska Commission on Post-Secondary 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.

Before that he was an administrator with the Arizona State Commission for Higher Education and was an assistant professor at Arizona State University.

He is the elected president of the State Higher Education Executive Officers, which includes chief executive officers of higher education from all 50 states. He has also been chairman of the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education.

"I am very impressed by the partnership UVCC has established with the community and 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 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."

Regents noted that Romesburg has shown national leadership on vocational education.

Three months ago, for example, he challenged his peers in other states to put vocational education higher on the higher education agenda. He led Alaska in establishing better coordination of public and higher education vocational offerings and avoiding duplication of courses.

Hansen said Romesburg's tenure in Alaska shows he can create an environment where state leaders can turn to the colleges and universities as places problems can be solved.

Wm. Rolfe Kerr, Utah commissioner of higher education, has worked with Romesburg in regional and national settings.

"Over and over again I have seen him emerge as a leader on critical issues that face our campuses. He has put such challenges as cost containment and increasing opportunities for minorities and at-risk students on the national agenda. His clear thinking and willingness to take on tough issues will be a tremendous asset to all of Utah higher education," Kerr said.

Romesburg, who was born in Ohio and raised in Arizona, began his career teaching high school mathematics in 1967 and has kept a teaching assignment whenever he could since then. He teaches college math in Alaska and hopes to teach at UVCC once he settles into the presidency.

"Interacting with students in the classroom is the best way to get your finger on the pulse of what's happening on campus," he said. "It's a way of taking measure of whether students' needs are being met and what can be done to serve them better."

Romesburg and his wife, Judy, are the parents of two sons. Mrs. Romes-burg is also an educator, teaching junior high English and language arts.

Stoddard said she is proud of her brief tenure as acting president. "I think I was president at a very difficult time. But there were no resignations while I was president, and community involvement was high."

Search committee members denied reports that Stoddard was not named because she is a woman, and she said she has no knowledge of what went on in the committee.

"I love being vice president (of academic affairs), but I'd love to be president," Stoddard said.

Search committee members said the six-woman, 13-man committee carefully studied qualifications, not sex of applicants, in selecting finalists from 14 semifinalists. The semifinalists were chosen from a field of 84 applicants, of which Stoddard was the only woman. Five finalists, including one who subsequently dropped out, were recommended earlier this month to the state Board of Regents.

"The selection (of the finalists) had absolutely nothing to do with gender bias," said A. Dean Jeffs, search committee chairman. Jeffs said he was offended by the wording of one news story alleging bias.

Jeffs said Stoddard was an excellent candidate but the finalists were more qualified. Finalists included three past or current college presidents and a member of the state Board of Regents.