Jill Board, President of Cerro Coso Community College, announced on Thursday, August 22, 2019, that she will retire from her position in June of 2020. The announcement marks a milestone in her more-than-30-year career in higher education in California. When Board became the 7th president of the college in 2010, she was the third woman in a row to serve in that position.
“Kern Community College District (KCCD) has been very good to me and my family in providing career opportunities through this time,” said Board in a letter to KCCD Chancellor Tom Burke.
During her presidency, Board's achievements include expanding programs and services at all of the college's campuses, implementing new technologies, advancing equity initiatives, reinstating and developing athletic offerings, executing strategies and grants to reduce costs to students, and passage of Measure J to meet facility and conservation goals. Throughout her tenure she has led the college through financially challenging times in an atmosphere of inclusiveness, mutual respect, open transparent communication, and keeping the college focused on the mission and purpose of serving students first. “They are what keeps us going; they are the shining stars that keep us focused in the midst of many battles,” she once said.
Board has given considerable attention to enhancing organizational effectiveness by committing to improve the student experience and outcomes when the state changed its emphasis from “open access” to “access, student success, and completion”. This was accomplished by:
- Attending to the quality of the learning environment for students through the expansion of program opportunities and new and renovated facilities;
- Obtaining financial support from the community, state, and federal government through donations and grants;
- Hiring and retaining the best qualified faculty and staff;
- Supporting business and industry through customized training, internships, and work-based training opportunities;
- Recognizing excellence for faculty, staff, and administrators at the state and national level; and
- Developing and restructuring the Cerro Coso Community College Foundation, resulting in a tremendous increase in the amount of work being accomplished to benefit students, employees, and the college as a whole.
This was verified by the college's two highly successful reaffirmation of accreditations without qualifications by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), a significant achievement as federal regulations for increased accountability in education have resulted in more closely examining standards related to student learning, assessment, and institutional outcomes.
The College expanded its academic offerings into Tehachapi, high schools, and two California prisons to fill critical and growing needs under Board's presidency. The Tehachapi Education Center became an official campus location of Cerro Coso in the spring of 2016. In terms of students served, the East Kern campus has become the second largest physical campus of the college (after the main campus in Ridgecrest) due in large part to the outreach, recruitment, and development of relationships in Tehachapi. Through the college dual enrollment program, high school students can now accumulate credits prior to entering college so they will be able to graduate from college early and on time. The success of the Cerro Coso's Incarcerated Student Education Program (ISEP) and its integration of programs and services like EOPS and PTK, have received regional, state, and national attention.
Along with serving on many professional boards in various capacities, Board is the recipient of numerous distinguished awards, including the Woman of the Year Award given by the Beta Sigma Phi Ridgecrest Chapter, and the Shirley B. Gordon Award of Distinction by Phi Theta Kappa International for her outstanding efforts in promoting the goals of the organization.
Before becoming president, Board served as Vice President of Student Services at Cerro Coso, and was responsible for planning, developing, and evaluating a college-wide comprehensive student services program and intercollegiate athletic program. She had fiscal oversight and management responsibilities for state-restricted and unrestricted budget allocations, administered the student conduct process, and served as the Title IX coordinator and the Americans with Disabilities Act compliance officer. Previous positions held by Board at Cerro Coso include: Dean of Student Services; Dean of Student Learning; Director of Admissions and Records, Matriculation, and Student Activities; and Counselor/Coordinator for Special Services.
Board plans to continue to lead the College throughout the academic year, working with the various employee groups to devise a plan that addresses current fiscal issues while planning for a looming recession, and that ensures Cerro Coso will be ready for their new leader to take the reins with new energy and vision that will be inclusive of its 18,000+ square miles that has “more critters than people,” said Board.
“I look forward to my last productive year and am hopeful with this amount of notice the right candidate will emerge who will fall in love with the desert, the Eastern Sierra, and its people,” she concluded.