Look­ing back at ca­reer of Delta Col­lege’s pres­i­dent

Lodi News-Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By John Bays NEWS-SEN­TINEL STAFF WRITER

Af­ter work­ing at San Joaquin Delta Col­lege for 25 years, Kathy Hart an­nounced ear­lier this month that she will re­tire in Septem­ber from her po­si­tion as the school’s su­per­in­ten­dent and pres­i­dent.

Although Hart was ap­pointed pres­i­dent in 2012 — mak­ing her the first woman to serve in that ca­pac­ity — Hart’s ca­reer at Delta be­gan in 1994 when she moved from her home state of Indiana to work as as­sis­tant divi­sion chair for com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills, ac­cord­ing to a Jan. 8 press release.

Hart then be­came dean of plan­ning, re­search and re­gional ed­u­ca­tion, vice pres­i­dent of in­struc­tion and even­tu­ally be­came su­per­in­ten­dent/pres­i­dent, the press release said.

“I think I’ve re­ally cre­ated a lot of good will in the com­mu­nity, cre­ated a lot of im­por­tant part­ner­ships,” Hart said on Mon­day.

“I think, even when I haven’t been able to de­liver some­thing that part of the district wanted, I think the re­la­tion­ships I’ve built with in­di­vid­u­als in the com­mu­nity have been very ben­e­fi­cial.”

When Delta was un­cer­tain about its fu­ture af­ter the pre­vi­ous pres­i­dent was let go, Hart said the re­la­tion­ships she had al­ready de­vel­oped around the school al­lowed her to in­spire con­fi­dence in the ad­min­is­tra­tion and mo­ti­vate peo­ple to work to­gether to grow the school.

“I helped the col­lege to not only move for­ward, but also to heal be­cause of every­thing that had hap­pened over those eight to 10 months,” Hart said.

Although Hart is proud of part­ner­ships she helped to de­velop such as Mid­dle Col­lege High School with Lodi Uni­fied School District, dualen­roll­ment pro­grams in Lodi and Galt schools, adult ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams through­out the county and a pos­si­ble ro­bot­ics acad­emy with Lodi Uni­fied, she said there are still projects she wishes she had been able to com­plete dur­ing her ten­ure as su­per­in­ten­dent/pres­i­dent.

“I wish I had been able to work through a way to sat­isfy peo­ple in the North County by build­ing some­thing, or at the very least hav­ing plans in place to build some­thing,” Hart said.

Bill Huyett, a for­mer LUSD su­per­in­ten­dent and chair­man of Col­lege Lodi Ci­ti­zens Group, said that although he and his group were dis­ap­pointed when the Delta satel­lite cam­pus in Lodi they had ad­vo­cated for was can­celed, he still re­spected Hart as she was al­ways will­ing to lis­ten to their con­cerns.

“Lodi Uni­fied worked with Kathy to es­tab­lish Mid­dle Col­lege High School, and a lot of stu­dents have ben­e­fited from that pro­gram,” Huyett said. “From my per­spec­tive as a fel­low ed­u­ca­tor, I re­spect her and what she was able to do while she was there.”

As Delta’s at­ten­dance area includes San Joaquin County as well as Galt in Sacra­mento County and parts of Calav­eras County, Huyett hopes that the next su­per­in­ten­dent/pres­i­dent will look at other com­mu­nity col­leges that serve ar­eas of sim­i­lar size and learn from them.

“I hope who­ever comes next has a vi­sion of serv­ing all com­mu­ni­ties in Delta’s at­ten­dance area, and not just the cen­tral cam­pus,” Huyett said.

Find­ing a way to in­crease en­roll­ment is an­other goal Hart was un­able to ac­com­plish, she said, and one her suc­ces­sor will likely have to con­tend with as well.

Although Hart said she is glad to see more peo­ple find­ing jobs, she said that of­ten leaves them with less time to take classes, just one of the fac­tors she be­lieves has con­trib­uted to Delta’s en­roll­ment num­bers de­clin­ing for the past six years.

As the search be­gins for the next su­per­in­ten­dent/pres­i­dent, Hart said the ideal candidate would take their time to get to know the col­lege and com­mu­nity be­fore mak­ing any large changes.

“We need some­one who’s steady and who doesn’t change their mind all the time, and who has a vi­sion for the col­lege and will pur­sue that vi­sion, but also get all of those con­stituency groups in­volved with that vi­sion and to claim it as their own,” Hart said.

Even as Hart re­tires from the school it­self, she said she plans to keep work­ing with var­i­ous groups in the com­mu­nity to help Delta Col­lege as it con­tin­ues to grow.

“I love this com­mu­nity, I love the county and I will stay here af­ter I’m fin­ished with this po­si­tion,” Hart said. “Per­haps I’ll be able to work harder on some of the ini­tia­tives I’ve started.”

Dr. Charles Jen­nings, who rep­re­sents Lodi and Galt as trustee of Area 4 and serves as vice pres­i­dent of Delta’s board of trustees, ap­plauded Hart for her two-and-a-half decades of ser­vice to the school.

“Dr. Hart has self­lessly ded­i­cated sig­nif­i­cant time and en­ergy to the col­lege and its growth, and has cer­tainly con­trib­uted a great deal over the years,” Jen­nings said. “The col­lege will cer­tainly be in­debted to her for years to come.”

As Delta con­tin­ues to grow, Jen­nings said he looks for­ward to work­ing with his fel­low trustees to find a su­per­in­ten­dent/pres­i­dent who will help en­cour­age that growth.

“I’m hop­ing we find a dy­namic, vi­sion­ary leader who can build on the suc­cesses the col­lege has had over the years, and who will be able to re­late to our com­mu­nity and the var­i­ous ways we sup­port our stu­dents,” Jen­nings said.

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