Hartnell College Superintendent/President Dr. Phoebe Knight Helm requested today that the Board of Trustees launch a nationwide search to find her successor. In a letter addressed to the Board President, Dr. Helm said that she would like her contract extended to June 30, 2012, but that she would stay on longer if necessary to ensure a smooth transition of leadership for the College. "I care too much for the College, the Valley it serves, and the work of the Board, to leave them in a bind," she said.
Dr. Helm came to Hartnell in July 2007 as the interim president, and was named to the position on a permanent basis the following year.
Dr. Helm arrived at Hartnell just as it was put on academic probation. The college's enrollment was suffering, its financial reserves were near their lowest allowable level, and it was just one year past a strike by the faculty union. Under Dr. Helm's leadership, Hartnell has made great progress in all of these areas, growing enrollments, restoring budget reserves, revitalizing shared governance, and fully reaffirming the college's accreditation. Insodoing, Dr. Helm has been instrumental in restoring the community's involvement with the college, and the college's involvement in the community. Her vision for a public-private research and industry partnership at the new Alisal Campus has already resulted in a state-of-the-art facility that leverages significant public and private support, and has launched programs that support and enhance the agriculture, sustainable construction, alternative energy, and information technology fields.
Her impressive tenure of more than 35 years in education has included serving community colleges in Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, and California. Dr. Helm came out of retirement from the presidency of Harry S. Truman College, one of seven community colleges of the City College of Chicago, to take the Hartnell position. Her previous service in California included a year as the interim vice president/assistant superintendent of instruction at Palomar Community College, and four years as the vice chancellor, Economic Development and Vocational Education at the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office in Sacramento.
"Reflecting on my time here, I am most proud of our students' achievements. And, I have been humbled and awed by the generosity of this community, which will always have a special place in my heart," said Dr. Helm. "I am so proud of the work that Hartnell's faculty and staff have done together to refocus attention on the needs of our students and this community. This renewed commitment, along with the strength of our university and community partnerships and the bridges we have been building, should serve our community well into the future."