By Juan Ibarra/editor-in-chief
In February, Kenya Ayers was selected to be the new president of NE Campus and officially took office on July 1.
NE Campus has been on the search for a new president since the fall 2018 when the then president Allen Goben was removed from the position on the first day of classes. TR Campus founding president, Tahita Fulkerson took place as interim president while the search continued.
“I knew that community college was the right fit,” Ayers said. “I love the mission of the college. I love the breadth of the types of students that we serve. I also know that for me there is a type of community that is a good fit.”
Her background in education is further developed thanks to her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology and clinical psychology, however her PhD is in educational leadership and cultural studies. It was from a very young age that she realized where her interests lie.
“I skipped the second grade, and in order for that to happen, they had me do testing with the school psychologist, and I thought ‘psychologists are cool. They do good work and help people’,” she said.
Ayers has a history of working with students, even going back to when she was a student herself. In elementary school students would go to her with their problems and she realized she took joy in helping others, in college she had an internship where she did testing and therapy with adolescents.
“I’m doing this internship work with adolescents and — no kid wants to be in therapy,” she said. “On the other hand, with this assistantship that was paying for my classes, I was working with college students who were on academic probation.”
Being able to observe college students as they are given the resources to succeed and grow helped to cement Ayers’ future working with students.
“I fell in love with the idea of working with college students,” Ayers said.
The care and consideration Ayers puts into her work shines through Chancellor Eugene Giovannini’s recognition of her accomplishments and the resourcefulness she can bring to NE Campus.
“She brings a wealth of experience in academic support operations, institutional effectiveness, international studies, academic resource centers and the students’ first-year experience,” Giovannini said.
Ayers’ resumé holds a number of high-ranking positions, including academic dean of William Rainey Harper College, vice president and chair of the board of the Northwest Educational Council for Student Success, as well as executive director of multi-dimensional communications company, Esperanza Communications.
“I’m inviting some conversation with faculty and staff with how we serve students, not just now, but into the future,” Ayers said. “Ensuring that we are being very forward thinking about the students that we serve and why we’re serving.”
The overall goals that Ayers has planned for the future of NE Campus are tied to making sure that the school improves in all aspects, with a focus on the areas that need the most attention first.
Her approach is thorough, as she is doing a “listening tour with faculty, staff and students to spend time understanding the culture, climate and experience of people” on campus, in the hopes that she can find out where to start.
“I think President Ayers is doing exactly what President Fulkerson did, she seems inviting and welcoming,” Ricardo Garcia NE public services librarian said. “She seems to be an open doors-type of person.”
Ayers’ goal-driven mindset of planning out objectives, while still remaining approachable helps students and faculty alike to trust in her ideals for the future.
“I want students to know that my passion, my purpose is aligned with seeing them be as successful as they can be,” Ayers said. “I’m approachable, [and] I hope to get to know as many students as possible”