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Saturday, November 28, 2020

Nearly a decade, president

She served eight years as the president of Pierce. Now she will oversee an entire college district.

But before she becomes chancellor of SOCCCD on July 1, she will gain some experience in the familiar Los Angeles Community College District.

Former college president Kathleen Burke will serve as LACCD Interim Deputy Chancellor through June 30, LACCD Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez said in an email.

“I asked Dr. Burke to assist me for the remaining six weeks to take advantage of her experience and vast institutional knowledge of the district,” Rodriguez said in an email.  

Burke said that a chancellor position would be the next logical step after a college presidency.

“The decision to leave was not an easy one given the length of time that I’ve been at Pierce and the relationships that I have made there with so many of the faculty and staff,” Burke said.

However, she said that her tenure in LACCD has provided her with the skills and knowledge to lead the SOCCCD.

“The LA district is quite large, and it has taught me a great deal about how to best assist students from the position of an administrator,” Burke said. “Of course, I am forever grateful. The LACCD is a great opportunity to learn.”

Rodriguez said Burke will fill the deputy chancellor position that has been vacant since January 2017, following the retirement of Deputy Chancellor Adriana Barrera.

Burke began her temporary position at the district office on May 21.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Sheri Berger is serving as acting president until a permanent hire fills the position.

She said that Burke has years of experience that will help her fulfill the duties of her new position.

“I’m very excited for her. She has had a long career in education,” Berger said. “She’s worked tirelessly in every role that she’s had, starting as a faculty member and working her way up.”

Rodriguez said he is in the process of identifying an interim deputy chancellor to fill the role after Burke leaves to SOCCCD. The new interim deputy chancellor is expected to begin on July 1, 2018 and will remain in the position for the rest of the academic year or until a permanent hire fills that position.

Burke said that she does not know who will succeed as Pierce College president and she is not involved in the process. Rodriguez said an interim president will be announced by July.

I fully expect the Interim President to be identified on or before July 1, 2018,” Rodriguez said in an email. “The search for a permanent president is expected to launch in the late summer, with an expected start date of on or about January 1, 2019.”

Berger announced that Dean of Academic Affairs Tom Vessella will serve as the acting Vice President and Dean of Institutional Effectiveness Amari William will serve as acting Accreditation Liaison Officer.

Though change is coming about at Pierce, Berger said that Burke has left the college on stable ground to continue providing students with a quality education.

Berger said that while she was president of Pierce College, Burke was particularly focused on increasing student completion. During her tenure, transfer rates rose and so did the number of transfer degrees from about seven to almost 30, Berger said.

“What does that mean for Pierce College? We keep doing the good work that we are doing. [Burke has] given us vision and leadership and put us on a direction, and we stay on that direction,” Berger said. “We keep doing the things that we need to do to help our students and meet the needs of our community.”

Burke said she will bring her knowledge of accreditation, integrated planning and construction from her years working at LACCD.

She said she will miss the community and the physical Pierce College campus, but she will take all the experiences and knowledge she has gained in this district to SOCCCD.

“It’s been my home for eight years. I thank my chancellor and the Board of Trustees for their leadership and confidence in me,” Burke said. “It’s bittersweet for me to say goodbye, but it’s a great opportunity to serve SOCCCD and build relationships and help students.”


The Roundup is the student-run news outlet at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Calif.
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