published on December 20, 2012 - 10:02 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff
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Carolyn Pierce, President
Heald College, Fresno

What we do:  For 150 years, Heald College’s mission has been to prepare students for academic, personal, and professional success through quality career-focused programs that develop skills to last a lifetime. Since its establishment, Heald College has evolved into a leading career college that offers a range of programs in the health care, business, legal and technology fields. Heald College has 12 campuses throughout the western United States including California, Oregon, and Hawaii and serves more than 16,000 students. Heald College has been in Fresno since 1906.
Education:  B.A., business-economics UCLA; M.B.A University of Redlands
Age:  52


How did you come to your position as campus president at Heald College, Carolyn?

I started as a federal work-study student in the financial aid office at UCLA. My first job after college was at a private career college as a financial aid advisor. I became such a believer in what career colleges offer and do for their students that I moved into the admissions area to recruit students for a career college. After ten years with the company, I was promoted to campus director in Spokane, Wash. After several years, I moved on to Heald College because I was so impressed with their regional accreditation, history, reputation, and facilities, and the drive to be community and student oriented.

What are your primary responsibilities as campus president, Carolyn?

My primary responsibility is to oversee every aspect of the day-to-day operation of the Fresno campus, including budgeting, compliance with federal and state regulations, student enrollment, retention, student satisfaction/successes, graduate job placement and community relations.  

What are some of the challenges that Heald College faces each year, Carolyn?  

That’s a great question, and it all boils down to our students and how Heald College can best prepare them for the challenges of today’s labor market. Today’s job market is ever changing and Heald College spends a great deal of time and resources developing programs based on the need and/or changes in the marketplace. Programs are only added when the college has sufficient data from interviews with local employers, data published by the U.S. Department of Labor, the California Employment Development Department and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which reflect changes in demand.    

What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most difficult, Carolyn?

The most rewarding part of my job at Heald College is seeing employers happy with our graduates and graduates happy with their careers. It’s what gets me up every morning, knowing what I do, what my team does, and most importantly, what Heald College does to make a difference in the thousands of lives we have touched over our 107 year history in Fresno!

As a campus president, it’s always difficult to see a student not take the investment in their education seriously. I understand that life creates many obstacles, but that’s what makes Heald College so special is we don’t prescribe to letting any student fail. We only strive for success. Quitting should rarely be an option because education is an investment in the student’s future.   

What do you ultimately hope to accomplish at Heald College, Carolyn?

I want our graduates and college to be the first place that employers call for employees. We strive to keep abreast of the current job market and offer employers the skill level they are looking for in potential employees.

What is the best business advice that you have ever received, Carolyn?

My mother always said, your word is your word, and it’s important to work well with others. Even if at times you might not always agree with them, it’s how you move on from that disagreement that speaks volumes for your character.

That message has always served me well in life. Thanks, Mom!

What was your first job growing up, and what did you learn from it?

As with most teenagers, my first few jobs were babysitting and bagging groceries. From these experiences, I learned how important customer service really is, and how education feeds into that notion. In life, it’s not about how much money you make, or the building you built, it’s about passion, compassion, quality, and hard work. Everyday, I serve at the pleasure of my students and their success — I represent a company of tradition and service to our students. It’s had to believe I learned all of that from my first couple of jobs as a teenager.  

What do you like to do in your spare time, Carolyn?

The first thing I like to do is to get a relaxing facial! After that, I enjoy travelling and snow skiing. To keep myself involved with the community, I attend meetings with Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce, the Fresno Women’s Network, the Fresno County Women’s Chamber of Commerce, 9 to 5 for Christ, the Adult Education Task Force and the Fresno Ski Club. I’m never bored!


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