Dr. Kathleen Hetherington, president of Howard Community College, has dedicated her career in higher education to advancing the mission of community colleges. With more than 35 years of progressively responsible community college leadership experience, Dr. Hetherington is the fourth president of Howard Community College (HCC) and the first to be a community college graduate.
Dr. Hetherington has served as president of HCC since 2007, leading an institution nationally recognized for its strong academic programs and innovative approaches to instruction. Under her leadership, Howard Community College has grown to 30,000 credit and noncredit students. Supporting this enrollment growth has resulted in more than $132 million in college facilities construction and improvements, including a new health sciences building, and a science, engineering, and technology building that opened in 2017.
With her student-centered approach to leadership, she has revamped the college strategic planning process, added academic programs in high-demand fields, and focused on increasing degree completion and transfer to four-year colleges and universities. At the conclusion of the 2016–2017 academic year, more than 1,300 students received an associate degree or certificate. Looking across a seven-year period, the college’s graduation rate increased a record 92 percent—the highest percentage increase among all of Maryland’s 16 community colleges.
Calling Howard Community College “one of the stars,” First Lady Michelle Obama participated in a panel discussion with Dr. Hetherington and students, as part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative. The First Lady emphasized the important work taking place at Howard Community College to ensure students have an affordable education that leads to successful employment upon graduation.
Well-respected by her peers in higher education, the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) named Dr. Hetherington as its recipient of the 2014 Chief Executive Officer Award, which recognizes the outstanding contributions and leadership of a community college president. Dr. Hetherington received this award after her selection as the ACCT Northeast Region CEO. This honor resulted in the Maryland State Senate presenting Dr. Hetherington with an official proclamation at one of its 2015 meetings.
During her tenure as president, Howard Community College has achieved recognition as a “Great College to Work For” from The Chronicle of Higher Education for nine consecutive years. HCC is the only community college in Maryland to have achieved this record status.
Dr. Hetherington maintains strong ties to the community and strives to enhance the college’s partnerships with area businesses, organizations and nonprofits. She champions the needs of students and the broader college community before elected officials at the county, state, and federal levels. Dr. Hetherington serves on the Education Commission of the States, a position appointed by the governor of Maryland in 2013.
Within Maryland, she works proactively with her community college colleagues by serving on the executive committee of the Maryland Council of Community College Presidents and the state’s community college advocacy organization, the Maryland Association of Community Colleges. The Daily Record named Dr. Hetherington as the recipient of its 2018 Influential Marylander award for her leadership and significant contributions to education.
Prior to her presidency, Dr. Hetherington served HCC as the executive vice president, capital campaign manager, and vice president of student services. Before joining HCC, she held progressively responsible positions at the Community College of Philadelphia, including dean of student systems. She was an adjunct professor at Delaware County Community College in Pennsylvania.
Dr. Hetherington holds an Ed.D. from Widener University, a M.S. from Villanova University, a B.S.S. from Pennsylvania State University, and an A.A.S. from the Community College of Philadelphia.