Hail to the Interim Chief

Alma Johnson-Hawkins is ready to embrace her new position as Valley’s interim president

by Jhanelle Rivera, Editor In Chief, and Edward Ruano, Copy Editor

With the experience that comes from an educational back­ground of more than 30 years, Valley College’s new inter­im President Alma Johnson- Hawkins is aware and prepared to face the numerous challenges that come with the responsibili­ties of her new position.

On Sept. 17, Johnson- Hawkins, former vice president of student services at Pierce College, was named Valley’s new interim president by the Board of Trustees after Sue Carleo’s retirement last month. Her cur­rent assignment is for one year, during which she plans to famil­iarize herself with the college’s staff, mission and goals before creating a strategic plan to bal­ance the school budget and tackle other issues.

“I don’t think my purpose is to come in and change Valley College,” said Johnson-Hawkins. “I come in acclimating to Valley College, getting to know Valley College, getting to know the fac­ulty, staff and students of the college and familiarizing myself with the goals of the college.”

With challenges like limit­ed courses, an inability to pro­vide adequate support services for students and a cumulative deficit of more than $6 million, Johnson-Hawkins is focusing on doing her best as interim presi­dent first before applying for the permanent presidential position sometime in June, when the col­lege will begin its hiring process.

“I’m focused on working with the college community through our challenges of the deficit and working with the community in terms of how we can offer the best courses. That’s my primary focus,” said Johnson-Hawkins. “After that is applying for the full-time position, and that’s yet to be seen what it’s going to look like.”

Born in Natchez, Miss., Johnson-Hawkins knew from an early age that she wanted to be an educator. After leaving the south and moving to California with her family at a young age, she began pursuing her educa­tional career, starting with her first job at Van Nuys Junior High School and then Van Nuys High School. Moving into college edu­cation, she continued her career at Los Angeles Mission, West Los Angeles, East Los Angeles, and more recently, Los Angeles Pierce colleges before landing her position at Valley.

“I’ve served as an adminis­trator for the last 18 years, I think that I’ve been quite successful as an administrator, and I feel privi­leged that all of those experienc­es resulted in my being selected as the interim president at the college,” said Johnson-Hawkins. “Now, it’s my turn to pay it back, so that when you come in and sit in your classes, you can be sure you’re going to get the best qual­ity education.”

During her downtime, Johnson-Hawkins enjoys walk­ing around the campus, where she gets to interact with stu­dents using a “secret-shopper” approach before identifying her­self as the president. She recog­nizes the importance of keep­ing students updated and has regular communication with the Associated Student Union President Alexia Johnson in par­ticular, who spreads her message across the student body.

“With the support of the students and faculty, she can bring great change,” said Johnson. “She is very approachable, and I am looking forward to regular meetings with her.”

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