It is with great pleasure that we are hosting events and activities highlighting the investiture of Dr. Avis Proctor as the sixth president of Harper College. The pandemic prevented us from doing so sooner, and we are delighted that we are taking the time to do so now.
Before arriving at Harper College, Dr. Proctor had 25 years of experience working in multicultural environments as an innovative mathematics educator, and academic administrator with a focus on teaching, service, and research. Harper College began its comprehensive national search for a new president in September 2018. The Board selected Dr. Proctor because we were confident in her abilities to continue our rich history of quality education and building on that history to take the college to the next level.
Since her arrival, Dr. Proctor has continued the important work on student success initiatives. During this time, the college was acknowledged by the Aspen Institute as a semi-finalist for the prestigious College Excellence Program which means that Harper is considered one of the top 25 community colleges in the country. This is the nation’s signature recognition for America’s community colleges—as President Obama called it, “basically the Oscars for great community colleges.” The Aspen Prize honors colleges with outstanding achievement in five critical areas: teaching and learning, certificate and degree completion, transfer and bachelor’s attainment, workforce success, and equity for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds.
In addition, in 2021, Harper was the recipient of an $18 million gift from philanthropist, activist and author MacKenzie Scott, who pledged to give a majority of her wealth to charitable causes to address some of society’s most pressing problems. This is the largest gift in the college’s history. It was used to create the Igniting Paths to Success scholarships which awarded full tuition, fees and books to 1,000 students, helping to address an urgent need for many in our community struggling to access and prioritize higher education due to the challenges and uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding from this significant gift was also used to provide one-year grants to nonprofit organizations whose missions support the advancement of equity, diversity and economic mobility for underserved and marginalized communities in Harper’s district. The program’s goals align with Harper’s efforts to reduce the college’s equity gaps by 20% by 2024.
So, we have much to celebrate! On behalf of the Board of Trustees we hope you are able to participate on one of the events designed to celebrate Dr. Avis Proctor as Harper College’s sixth president.
Pat Stack, Chair
Harper College Board of Trustees