published on August 29, 2016 - 8:37 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Dr. Lori Bennett, President
Clovis Community College

What you do: As president, I am responsible for leading the college’s strategic planning efforts, effectively allocating college resources, ensuring adherence to accreditation policies and requirements and overseeing all college programs and services. In addition, I maintain our strong relationships with our K-12 partners, our university partners and our local community. Most importantly, I am here to serve our students as they pursue their educational goals.

Education: California State University, Northridge
Ed.D. – educational leadership and policy studies
University of Chicago MBA – marketing/finance
University of Southern California BS – business

Age: 56

Family:  I have been married 35 years to my husband, Kenn. We have three children: Michelle, Kristen and Michael.

How did you get involved in education, Dr. Lori?
After I had children, I started teaching business classes part-time at a community college. I fell in love with teaching and have been in education ever since.

How has your 10 years of business experience aided you in the educational field?
Leading a college is similar to running a business. My previous career gave me experience developing strategic plans, managing large budgets, developing new products, and working with a wide variety of people and departments. I am responsible for the same type of activities in my role as president of Clovis Community College.

Explain how your career in education has progressed.  
I started teaching part-time in Washington. When I moved back to California, I became a full-time business professor at Moorpark College. I taught for 10 years, and was the department chair for four years. I became Dean of Student Learning for six years and then the Executive Vice President of Instruction and Student Services for three years. Now, I am thrilled to serve as the president of Clovis Community College.

With more young adults enrolling in college courses, how have community colleges been impacted and what challenges does Clovis Community College face as one of the newest community colleges in the state, Dr. Lori?

To better serve the students coming to Clovis Community College, we are building a robust collection of data to help us analyze their needs. This will help us ensure that we provide the right combination of courses and student support services.

What differences and similarities have you noticed so far between Clovis Community College and the other colleges you’ve worked at, Dr. Lori?

All community colleges have the same basic goals and responsibilities which is to provide high quality education for students, to provide a good working environment for their employees, and to meet the needs of the local community. During the short time I have been at Clovis Community College, it is evident that the faculty and staff are dedicated to helping students succeed by going above and beyond to assist them in any way possible.  
One difference is that Clovis is the newest community college in California. At this time, we don’t have as many Career Technical Education vocational programs as other community colleges. However, thanks to the support of our local community passing the Measure C bond, Clovis Community College will be able to add several new vocational programs that will meet the needs of our local employers.

What are your goals as the new Clovis Community College president, Dr. Lori?
First and foremost, I am passionate about student success. I want to help strengthen our partnerships with our local K-12 and university colleagues so that our students have seamless pathways from high school to Clovis Community College to four-year universities or job opportunities.
I will also oversee the creation of the new Career Technical Education building and developing the programs it will house. With the recent passage of the State Center Community College District Measure C facilities bond, one of my main goals is to provide a state-of-the-art applied technology facility for career technical education to train students for the employment demands of the future in areas such as environmental, waste water sciences, occupational therapy, food processing, electro-mechanical technology and more.
Technology is key in the educational arena and we will launch a brand new, fully responsive website, making information more accessible for students, staff, and the community. The new website will be launched in spring of 2017.
The future for higher education in the Central Valley is about serving our students and providing access to higher education. The community colleges in this region work well together and have strong ties with our university partners, and community leaders. We are working together to help increase the number of students who earn a degree or certificate so they are prepared to continue or advance with their current employer or enter the workforce.

What does the future hold for higher education in the Central Valley, Dr. Lori?
The best advice I ever received was to be myself and spend time on things I enjoy. This came from a mentor at my previous college. Following this advice has helped me to excel in my community college career, while doing work that makes me feel fulfilled and happy.

Who or what has been the biggest influence on your career, Dr. Lori?
Watching my father inspired my love for management. Throughout my career, when I had questions or problems, I could always call him and he would help me think through the issues. He always put caring about people first, and that really influenced how I try to make decisions.

What are your roots in the Central Valley, Dr. Lori?
I lived in Bakersfield and graduated from Highland High School.

What was your first job? Describe something you learned from that first job.

My first job was a paper route in high school. I rode my bike and delivered the local newspaper for my neighborhood. It was seven days a week, even on holidays. Back then, no one had ever seen a girl “paperboy.” I learned that I could do anything I set my mind to, and how to throw straight and hit the porch, not the bushes!

What do you do in your spare time, Dr. Lori?
I enjoy traveling, visiting my children, hiking, reading, and gardening.

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