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TMCC’s 10th President Takes Office

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
HSE Graduation Dr. Hilgersom Image

From left to right: Scholarship recipient Salvador Tapia, TMCC President Karin Hilgersom, and Lucy Flores, J.D., at the 2016 HSE Graduation.

Students and staff members welcomed on June 15 Karin Hilgersom, PhD as the 10th President of Truckee Meadows Community College.

Students say that they are impressed with her preparation and knowledge of the region.

“You can see it in the way she greets individuals; she is genuine and very approachable,” said Spencer Schultz, Student Government Association (SGA) President 2015-2016. “Her background knowledge of the community and the research she put into the Reno-Tahoe area showed when our student committee spoke to her during the presidential search process. A large plus that I drew was her sense of vision and optimism for the future of TMCC as a whole.”

Dr. Hilgersom accepted a bouquet of roses from staff and students at the welcome reception for her that followed the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Board of Regents meeting on Thursday, June 9. At the reception, she talked about her arrival back in Nevada on June 5.

"I was delighted to see the green parks and trees of Reno — the landscape has become mature with green belts for walking — it’s gorgeous," she said. “My family visited Reno when I was 19 for the grand opening of the MGM Grand, which is now Grand Sierra Resort. It’s wonderful to be here.”

Her enthusiasm for working, growing and living in the area is apparent.

“From the thoughtful attention paid to parks, sidewalks and even landscaped parking lots and road dividers, it requires making beauty a value” she said. “These things matter when you’re trying to build a healthy and prosperous community. Some communities miss the integration of beauty in infrastructure. Quality of life and a high performance workforce go hand-in-hand.”

Dr. Hilgersom said that two factors have especially impressed her. First is the care Reno has taken toward beautifying its infrastructure, and another is the community’s efforts in developing a strong economic diversification to make the region great.

The region features an increasingly diversified economy

“Northern Nevada has made tremendous strides in diversifying its economy,” she said. “Reno and Sparks are positioning the region in a smart way by welcoming companies from a broad range of clusters, especially manufacturing and start-ups. There is growth in health care and the arts, and when these are added to a hospitable environment for entrepreneurship, it also brings to the area great restaurants, shopping districts and support for casino entertainment.”

Dr. Hilgersom said that TMCC’s outstanding reputation in workforce development will bring additional businesses into the area, and the College aspires to add training courses for which new companies express a need.

“TMCC, with its excellent programs and services, can align with all of these clusters to continue building this prosperous community,” she said. “These are mutually beneficial partnerships.”

She added that the Economic Development Association of Western Nevada, (EDAWN) supports the community by bringing new companies to the area and letting the colleges know what kind of workforce is emerging.

“TMCC produces well-trained graduates in our culinary arts programs which aligns with the tourism industry, and we prepare technicians at the Applied Technology Center ready for positions in advanced manufacturing,” she said. “Renown has announced expansion and plans to add to its staff. Our health sciences programs will help fill their needs. TMCC’s entrepreneurship programs align to the growing start-up cluster.”

Community colleges make possible occupations and avocations

Dr. Hilgersom said that she plans to explore more partnerships between performing and visual arts programs and local arts organizations.

“We can train students for a job — that’s great — but we need to also teach for personal knowledge and enrichment,” she said. “We’re teaching the whole individual. For example, what someone does for an occupation is strengthened by our lifelong ‘extracurriculars’ such as a passion for music, books, theater, art and outdoor recreation. These work together to make people happy.”

She added that College services are vital in a community.

“We need to celebrate diversity, not just embrace it,” she said. “We also owe it to all our students to teach them resiliency. This resiliency will serve them well at school and throughout life.”

Karin Hilgersom began her educational career in Oregon

Dr. Hilgersom earned her doctorate in Educational Policy and Management, and her Masters in Rhetoric and Communication at the University of Oregon. She began her community college career as a faculty member in 1986, which included full-time faculty and chair experience at Spokane Community College in the Communication Studies Department. Dr. Hilgersom also served as Dean of Arts and Sciences there.

She has most recently served as the president of Sullivan County Community College, SUNY Sullivan, in Loch Sheldrake, New York. In June, she has been busy stepping into her new leadership role at TMCC, and has been attending receptions and greeting the College community.

Dr. Hilgersom’s husband, Matt is a web developer who is also interested in entrepreneurial projects in the field of technology. He is already starting to meet people involved with Reno’s start-up hubs and organizations. They have two adult sons; Ben in Spokane, Wash., and Niko in Moline, Ill. Dr. Hilgersom adds that she’d like to convince them to relocate to Nevada. Anna, their college-age daughter has recently completed her associate degree at SUNY Sullivan and will be continuing on in New York State toward her bachelor’s degree in music.

For more information about the TMCC President’s Office, please call 775-673-7025.