Welcoming Kathryn Jeffery: SMC's New President
The Board of Trustees unanimously elected Kathryn Jeffery as the new president and superintendent of SMC on Nov. 17. It is projected that Jeffery will take office officially in Spring 2016. "SMC students can expect that I will follow a thoughtful, analytical, and informed approach to decision-making," Jeffery said. "I will be accessible, take time to talk with my new colleagues and with students, and will carefully listen to their perspectives."
Jeffery, current president of Sacramento City College, has spent her 39-year career involved on many professional and community boards, including the U.S. Department of Education Task Force, Commission on Academic, Student, and Community Development appointed by the American Association of Community Colleges and many others.
Her resume also includes president of Hennepin Technical College in Minnesota, chief campus administrator at the College of Southern Nevada, Vice President of Columbia College in the Yosemite College District, and Dean for Faculty and Staff Diversity/Development and Dean for Student Services at the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.
"I talked with students during my visit to the SMC during the interview process and have already received welcome emails from students," Jeffery said. "I have been student-centered throughout my career in higher education and expect that to continue and grow even stronger as I meet, engage with and learn from the diverse community of SMC students."
The presidential search began around former president Chui L. Tsang's retirement in June. The search committee, arranged by the Board of Trustees, narrowed down the contenders to four finalists: Larry Buckley, Kathryn Jeffery, Tim McGrath and Rachel Rosenthal.
The finalists reached out and interacted with the SMC community at public forums on Nov. 12 and 13. There, Jeffery used her vast experience as evidence of her capability to fill the role as leader at SMC.
“I have been privileged enough to serve in a variety of different settings,” Jeffery said at the public forum. “Multi-campus colleges. Multi-college districts. So this has given me a view of higher education from a variety of different vantage points.”
As the last contender to take the floor, Jeffery was noted for her honest approach to the community conversation. When asked how she would fulfill the role, Jeffery half-jokingly responded with: “You don’t really know how to do the job until you’re doing the job – so you have to hire me so I can know how to do it.”
Jeffery's open and humorous approach, combined with her experience won SMC over in the end. In a more serious tone, Jeffery remains true to the idea that her leadership approach will adjust depending on the attitude and needs of the student body.
"As I look forward to transitioning to the Superintendent/President position at Santa Monica College, I am most excited about the opportunity to meet with students and learn about their hopes and aspirations," Jeffery said. "This will help me better assess how SMC is helping students achieve their professional and personal goals and how I might contribute as well."
Jeffery began her education career while still in college, working in student housing in a dorm at Oklahoma State University. After graduating, she became a part time counselor at Sacramento City College and moved up from there, eventually becoming the president of the college.
"In the words of the SMC Student Trustee, Jonathan Eady, 'I am proud to be SMC!'," Jeffery said.