Ten Questions with Dr. Avis Proctor

ten questions avis proctor

Since becoming the sixth President of Harper College in July 2019, Dr. Avis Proctor has faced unprecedented challenges. A global pandemic, uprooting the lives and operations of our learning community. Social and political unrest, calling to action the role of community college in educating and supporting our community. A change of scenery, having moved her family from sunny Florida to the blustery Midwest – while adapting to the hurdles of starting a new role. But through it all, her 25-plus years of experience as a leader in higher education and mathematics educator have positioned her to rise to the challenges and lead us with confidence, heart and data. As an introduction, we asked Dr. Proctor 10 questions about her life and experiences.

1. Describe your perfect day.

A perfect day starts with a bike ride and half of my day’s water intake, followed by something warm like tea or coffee. From there, I’m catching up on some reading before starting my work day. At the end of the day, because it’s a perfect day, dinner has been planned and prepared and my family gets to sit down and enjoy it together for a moment of levity and peace. I would cap it off by lighting a candle and watching my favorite news programs.

2. Who was your role model growing up?

My grandmother always demonstrated her love for family, valued education and pushed me to be my best self.

3. What’s the best advice you ever received?

My mother stressed the importance of education. She often said, “Get as much education as you can get because no one can take that from you.”

4. Top three favorite movies?

  • The Sound of Music – I grew up watching this with my grandmother.
  • Good Will Hunting – This is such a beautiful story that demonstrates how the gift of knowledge, specifically mathematics, can empower you no matter who you are or what your background may be.
  • Hidden Figures – Again, another math movie! This one is near and dear to my heart. Dr. Katherine Johnson, an African American female mathematician, was the hidden figure behind calculating the trajectory for astronaut John Glenn to orbit the globe in the early years of NASA. I had the unique opportunity to meet her two daughters and learn of how they discovered their mother’s global impact when they saw her photo in a library. It was a great experience.

5. Favorite type of music?

I love all types of music! Growing up, I was always surrounded by Christian and gospel music which was very formative for me. I learned how to play piano at a young age which developed my love for classical music and led me down a path of learning how to play the violin and clarinet. I’m also very fond of R&B music.

6. What skill or talent would you like to perfect?

Singing. And biking uphill!

7. If you could make a documentary on any topic, what would it be?

The perseverance of the human spirit. I would love to look at traumatic and challenging times in history and shine a light on how, even in the worst circumstances, the best of humanity always overcomes the bad; light always overcomes the dark. The times we’re living in have really brought this idea of perseverance to mind, and I find comfort in the continued push of humans to shape brighter futures for us, for our children and for generations to come.

8. What is something people often get wrong about you?

That I’m not approachable.

9. What are you hopeful for?

I’m hopeful that we’ll get on the other side of this pandemic more resilient than ever before. We’ve learned a lot and I’m confident we’ll emerge renewed and with a new sense of readiness to innovate and inspire.

10. What do you love most about Harper College?

The people. Everyone is so invested in our community’s success. From day one on the job, I’ve been impressed by our shared love of learning, desire to grow and eagerness to help others reach their goals. It’s this pursuit of excellence that sets us apart.

Last Updated: 8/20/21