Community colleges are places where people of most all ages or backgrounds can study subjects from business to the sciences, or liberal arts to technical sciences—connecting students to their hopes and aspirations, whether it is transfer, a new career or lifelong learning.
Truckee Meadows Community College includes in its mission statement to connect students with their goals and dreams. The College started out as an outreach, an arm of Western Nevada Community College and was initially located in the Stead area. In December 1979, NSHE Regents established TMCC as an independent college, with V. James Eardley as its first president.
On the occasion of the inauguration of the College's tenth President, Karin Hilgersom, PhD, speeches and presentations highlighted connection. Officials from around the state attended the ceremony on Friday, Feb. 3 in the V. James Eardley Student Center. Those participating in or attending the event included NSHE administrators, state and local dignitaries and community representatives.
- Three college leaders: President of UNR, Marc Johnson, PhD, President of WNC, Chet Burton, and Acting President of Desert Research Institute (DRI), Robert B. Gagosian, PhD
- Former presidents of TMCC: Maria C. Sheehan, Ed.D., and J.Kyle Dalpe, PhD
- State office-holders: Julia Ratti, Nevada State Senator (District 13), and Jill Tolles, Nevada Assemblywoman (District 25)
- NSHE Acting Chancellor: John V. White, J.D.
- Former NSHE Chancellors: Dan Klaich, J.D. and Jane Nichols, PhD
- Regents: Patrick Carter, DBA; Cedric Crear; Carol Del Carlo; Jason Geddes, PhD; Sam Lieberman; Cathy McAdoo; John Moran, J.D.; and Kevin Page
- President of the WCSD Board of Trustees: Angela D. Taylor, PhD
- Officials from Reno City Council, Washoe County and Washoe County Commission
David Turner II, Student Government Association (SGA) President was a featured speaker.
“Last Spring Semester I sat on the presidential search committee, not really sure what to expect,” he said. “I had only one goal in mind. To find a person with the brain of a student, the heart of a teacher and the passion to make TMCC a better place each and every day.”
Turner believes that Hilgersom embodies these admirable traits.
“During each step of the interview process, and every day since she came here, she has shown a strong commitment to making TMCC the best institution, not just in the state of Nevada, but the country,” he added. “To her, it’s not just about turning over students with degrees, it’s about helping make the future better through a unique commitment to the community I have never seen in anyone else.”
President Hilgersom's Speech Highlighted a New Chapter
President Hilgersom’s keynote speech addressed how the many types of connections will fit into the next chapter of the College. One such link will focus on conversations with business and technology leaders, growing the region's economy.
“Community colleges are becoming recognized for the role that we can play in economic development, the thickening of economic clusters such as health care, manufacturing and small business development,” she said. “My team and I pledge to work with our really amazing economic development partners, including EDAWN, whose staff led by Mike Kazmierski comprise a fantastic team. TMCC will strengthen our connections and do our part to create and sustain prosperity in our region.”
She emphasized the exchange of ideas and communication between TMCC, K-12 and four-year universities.
“We have the right people here and within NSHE to do the work together, especially when it comes to transfer success,” she said. “I also pledge to seek stronger connections with the Washoe County School District—I’m so glad that Angela Taylor (president of the WCSD Board of Trustees) is here.”
Hilgersom hopes to expand dual credit options for high school students who are at the same time working on college credits. This will be a part of TMCC’s response to needs of the region’s industries, businesses, and arts communities.
Staff and Student Participation and Collaboration
Dr. Hilgersom spoke about the importance of connections between College administration, faculty, students and staff. Cheryl Cardoza, TMCC Faculty Senate Chair, praised the new president’s support and practice of sharing institutional governance with staff.
“Dr. Hilgersom has made a good start in supporting shared governance at TMCC,” Cardoza said. “Her vision for the College includes upholding high standards of excellence in our faculty, our staff, and our students. She is moving TMCC into a new era, one where sustainability and our environment are linked to our work as educators, one where best practices mean teaching the whole student and making our work here a fulfilling endeavor.”
TMCC students were a distinctive part of the inauguration ceremony.
Performing Arts students presented “Home Sweet Home,” a choreographed piece from their most recent production of the musical “The Boy Who Spoke with Animals,” by Reno composer Colin Ross. It showcases the chorus of, “I’ve got my family, in my community.” They were directed by Eric Bullis, PhD, Theater Instructor.
Culinary Arts majors prepared and offered hors d’oeuvres for the reception. They were guided by Chef Karen Cannan, Culinary Arts Director.
Regent Jason Geddes, PhD officially recognized the investiture of TMCC’s new leader.
“She is the right person at the right place at the right time,” he said. “After a national search, Karin stood out for her enthusiasm, interest and potential of TMCC, and I’m here to tell you that TMCC’s potential is greater than ever.”
He placed the large gold medallion of NSHE college presidents over her collar.
“The TMCC culture aspires to excellence—this is a high-performance organization,” Hilgersom said.