Dr. Kathleen Hetherington is the fourth president of Howard Community College (HCC) and the first in its nearly 42-year history to have begun an academic career by earning an associate degree from a community college. Following a unanimous vote by the college’s board of trustees, Dr. Hetherington, who has over 35 years of progressively responsible community college leadership experience, assumed the presidency of Howard Community College on June 1, 2007.
Dr. Hetherington, who has been twice named as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women by The Daily Record, and was a recipient of the 2012 SmartCEO Brava Award, leads an institution that is nationally recognized for its strong academic programs, innovative approaches to instruction, and student support services. HCC was recognized by Community College Week as a Top 50 Fastest Growing Public Two-Year Mid-Size Community College in the nation. The college enrolls over 30,000 credit and noncredit students annually. With one out of four graduates of the Howard County Public School System attending HCC, the college has earned the reputation of being an affordable institution that is recognized for its ability to inspire learning, as well as the lifelong pursuit of personal and professional goals.
Under the leadership of Dr. Hetherington, the college has received a number of accolades including the 2007 U.S. Senate Productivity Award for Organizational Performance Excellence; its designation by The Chronicle of Higher Education as a “Great College to Work For” and an honor roll college in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012; as well as a finalist position for the nation’s highest recognition of excellence, the 2008 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. In 2010, the Baltimore-Washington Corridor Chamber of Commerce honored the college with its Award of Excellence. Most recently, the college was honored by Military Advanced Education as a Top Military-Friendly College.
Dr. Hetherington is a strong advocate of student-centered goals, which include measurements for student learning and student success rates. She committed her presidency early on to the enhancement of a curriculum that strengthens students’ abilities. As such, she has introduced 28 new academic programs that lead to an associate degree in such high-demand fields as information technology/computer forensics technology, radiologic technology, architectural and construction management, public health, environmental science, and more.
Extending the college’s vision outward has been one of the many hallmarks of Dr. Hetherington’s tenure at HCC. Recognizing the importance of partnering with all sectors of the community, she is conducting the college’s fourth Commission on the Future, which invites membership from all areas of Howard County to provide recommendations to guide future college planning. Since 2007, a number of successful collaborations have enhanced the college’s numerous existing partnerships including joint efforts with Prince George’s Community College, Carroll Community College, Frederick Community College, Howard County Government, Howard County Police Academy, Howard County Public School System, Howard County Public Library, Community Colleges for International Development, Dickinson College, Excelsior College, Babson College, and many others. The most recent partnership is a shared center among Carroll, Frederick, and Howard Community Colleges, The Mount Airy College Center for Health Care Education, which will make a variety of health care courses and programs available to residents and businesses of the tri-county region.
Reinforcing HCC’s mission, vision, and values has also been central to Dr. Hetherington’s role at the college. As an experienced strategic planner, she recognized quickly the importance of simplifying the principles so they would become more memorable and meaningful to staff in the work they perform daily. As a result of her efforts, the tenets were revised and incorporated seamlessly into the college culture, core work, and strategic planning process. At the same time, she led the members of the President’s Team and Planning Council through a comprehensive process that resulted in the development of metrics designed to track the progress on the three strategic goals for fiscal years 2010-15.
Dr. Hetherington has lent her expertise equally to enhancing the college’s infrastructure. Her leadership has resulted in the major renovation of such key campus buildings as the Patrick & Jill McCuan Hall and Smith Theatre, which is housed by the Peter & Elizabeth Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center, as well as the James Clark, Jr. Library Hall, the first building constructed on campus in 1970. Dr. Hetherington also oversaw the expansion of the Children’s Learning Center, which houses an educational program accredited by the Maryland State Department of Education and is the only lab school in Howard County. As a result of Dr. Hetherington's leadership, the college has recently constructed a 750-space parking facility, which was a $14,213,000 project, is currently constructing a $50,707,000 new state-of-the-art "green" health sciences building scheduled to open in January 2013, and has begun the design of the new science, engineering, and technology building.
A skilled fundraiser, Dr. Hetherington led a highly successful capital campaign at HCC, which raised $14 million during a $12 million campaign. Most recently under her leadership, the college and the Howard Community College Educational Foundation partnered on a $4 million campaign for scholarships and endowments that closed successfully in June 2012.
Her career in community colleges is extensive. Prior to her presidency, she served HCC for eight years as a senior member of the President’s Team, having been promoted from vice president of student services to executive vice president and capital campaign manager. Before arriving at HCC, she held various positions at the Community College of Philadelphia, including dean of student systems for ten years. She also served as an adjunct faculty member at Delaware County Community College.
Dr. Hetherington is an expert on the growth of community colleges amidst a changing higher education landscape. She is frequently sought as a speaker on a number of national and regional issues related to community colleges. In her capacity as president and as a member of the Maryland Association of Community Colleges executive and legislative committees, she often testifies before federal, state, and local legislators on the importance of community colleges in helping numerous individuals access a quality education at an affordable cost.
An advocate of active community service, she has served on numerous boards, including the American Association of Community Colleges Commission on Communication and Marketing, the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, the Howard County Chamber of Commerce, the Nonprofit Resource Development Council, the James Rouse Entrepreneurial Fund (JREF), and Community Colleges for International Development. As an engaged leader in the community, she was selected to participate in Leadership Maryland, an independent organization that creates a statewide network of leaders who are committed to developing workable solutions to the challenges facing the communities and citizens of Maryland.
Dr. Hetherington holds a doctorate in higher education leadership from Widener University, a master’s degree in counseling and human relations from Villanova University, a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from Pennsylvania State University, and an associate degree in arts and sciences from the Community College of Philadelphia.