The Star-News


Interim president knows cooperation is key

Sat, Feb 05 2011 12:00 PM Posted By: Allison K. Sampite

Denise Whittaker, 62, said she was honored to be selected as Southwestern College's interim superintendent and president.

"The college's reputation of excellence and focusing on students made my decision to apply an easy one," she said.

Whittaker said being the oldest of eight children influenced her leadership style.

"I learned early on that cooperation and helping each other was important, as well as understanding that you don't always get what you want because other people's needs come into play," she said.

Whittaker said she is committed to working collaboratively with constituent groups to effectively resolve the college's issues.

At a meeting Dec. 14, the governing board outlined characteristics of a new leader, which included experience in California community colleges at the CEO level, successful experience with WASC accreditation, success as a collegial and collaborative leader, a reputation for being a consensus builder and experience in higher education with collective bargaining.

"Based on Whittaker's years of experience and track record of success, she can help us overcome our most pressing challenges, including accreditation and dealing with a shrinking state budget," said board of directors president Tim Nader.

Whittaker has 34 years of experience in California's community colleges and has a lengthy resume including serving as community college president, vice president and dean.

She received her master's degree in counseling from California State University, Los Angeles, a bachelor's with a major in elementary education and minor in recreation/outdoor education from Southern Illinois University. She received her associate science degree in liberal studies from Belleville Junior College in Illinois. In addition, she has completed all of the coursework required for the doctoral program at UCLA with a major in education and work and a minor in behavioral management.

Whittaker said her philosophy is based on honesty being the best policy. "I have no business being in this office if I'm not a person of integrity," she said. "I've never been a person who cheats. I hold myself to a high standard of ethics."

 


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