At a special meeting of the Hartnell Community College District Board of Trustees on Tuesday evening, June 19, long-time educator Phoebe Knight Helm was named interim superintendent and president of the college.
Dr. Helm brings to the college more than 30 years of experience serving community colleges in Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, and California. Her broad background in education includes teaching and administrative work in K-12 schools, colleges, and graduate schools, including a stint as the interim vice president and assistant superintendent of instruction at Palomar Community College and four years as the vice chancellor of economic development and vocational education at the California Community Colleges Chancellorís Office in Sacramento.
Dr. Helm retired in 2004 after serving eight years as president of Harry S. Truman College, one of seven community colleges of the City College of Chicago. Her career has focused on serving community colleges in ethnically and culturally diverse areas.
Dr. Helm earned her Ed. D. at the University of Kentucky, her masterís in education at Memphis State University, her bachelorís of science in education at Union University, and an associateís degree at Freed-Hardeman College in Henderson, Tennessee.
Announcing the unanimous appointment out of closed session, Board Chair Aaron Johnson said, "I am happy to announce that our board, which has been focused on this task for six months, has chosen someone able to effectively communicate with the board, with faculty, with unions, and the community, as interim president to keep Hartnell moving forward."
Dr. Helm, who will be the first woman to serve as a president and superintendent of Hartnell College, said "I am a person who likes what she does, likes people, believes in education, and especially believes in community college education. Letís all work together, full steam ahead."
"I am humbled by your faith [in me]," she said. After meeting members of the campus community on Wednesday, Dr. Helm will be back on campus June 26. She officially begins work on July 1.
The Board has commenced the process of choosing a permanent superintendent/president by soliciting professional executive search firms to assist with the nation-wide search. That process will be fully under way in the fall and will involve input from a broad base of interested college and community members. It is the Boardís hope that a permanent president will be named in the spring of 2008.