Dr. Jessica Howard, vice president of academic affairs, announced to college leadership Monday afternoon that she has accepted a position at Portland Community College in Oregon.
Howard said she will be president of the Southeast Campus in a multi-campus system starting in early August. She will leave the college June 29.
“I’m not leaving here; I’m going there,” she said.
President Robert Zeigler told The Ranger he will appoint an interim vice president of academic affairs before Howard leaves.
He said there will be no advertising for the interim position because he will choose the candidate from this college.
Zeigler said he is looking for a candidate who is collaborative, works well with employees and can “interact with vice presidents across the district.”
Zeigler also wants a candidate who is focused on students and is sympathetic to their needs.
Howard wants the next vice president of academic affairs to support the faculty and have “high academic standards.”
Zeigler said he has no one in mind currently for the permanent position, but the search will begin in the fall.
He hopes a candidate can be hired for the position before the spring semester in January.
Howard taught music at this college as an adjunct professor in the music and humanities department for four years.
The department faculty elected her chair a month before she was hired as full-time, tenure-track faculty in 2002.
After six years, President Robert Zeigler tapped her to fill the vacant executive vice president post as interim in 2008.
She was named executive vice president in the summer of 2009, and the position was recast as vice president of academic affairs by the end of that year.
Although she traveled a lot, Howard said the move will be a big adjustment because she has lived in San Antonio for the majority of her life.
She lived in three foreign countries during her college studies.
“Change is exciting,” she said.
Howard said the things she will miss the most about this college are the employees and the students.
She also said jokingly that she would miss her private restroom.
“I will never have a private bathroom again,” she said.
Among her major accomplishments at this college, she counts her influence in increasing the graduation rate and the inclusion of faculty advising.
She said the main initiative to help increase graduation rate is the “Don’t just transfer, graduate” system.
She said the number of graduates when she first became vice president of academic affairs was around 1,400.
This year, the number of graduates rose to 11,900.
She hopes this college will continue to be student-centered and continue to practice shared governance.
She also wants the college to offer “high quality teaching” because she knows how it feels to be a student at this college.
Although Howard has a doctorate degree in performance studies from New York University, she received an associate degree in music from this college in 2010.
She said she took four classes in two years so she could “walk the walk.”
“I truly value the degree,” she said, noting she wanted people to know about her accomplishment at this college.
She also has a master’s and bachelor’s degree in music as well as a bachelor’s degree in English from Rice University.
In addition, she also has a bachelor's degree in music from the University of London.
Because it is three weeks before Howard leaves, she encouraged employees in an email Tuesday morning to say their farewells in person.
“I am going to miss everyone,” she said. “Please put that in the paper.”