Dr. Sandra Kurtinitis
Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC)
As a self-described “servant-leader,” Dr. Sandra Kurtinitis has led the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) from an unstable institution to the largest provider of higher education in Maryland. To her, “the classroom is a far more important place on campus than the executive office,” and she strives to put the needs of CCBC’s 63,000 diverse students first.
Whether it was inheriting an institution that was faltering from a rocky merger of three independent community colleges, or steering the institution through an era of enrollment decline, Kurtinitis showed her resilience and flexible approach to management. She also enlisted ideas from faculty and staff in the positive pursuit of creative, cost-savings solutions.
“My philosophy is that leaders who listen more, while empowering others within the organization, lead to more results in a shared vision — not chaos,” Kurtinitis said.
However, she understands that even with internal support, leaders still must make difficult decisions. Her approach is simple: be fair, be consistent and be compassionate.
Despite these challenges, Kurtinitis is always seeking ways to keep CCBC competitive and to help the institution grow. She has helped raise $57.3 million to support students, programming, faculty and staff, and secured more than $300 million in capital funds to aid in new construction and renovation of buildings. She regularly engages with and garners support from business and community leaders, and is a board member of the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education.
“The impact President Kurtinitis has had on CCBC had been nothing short of remarkable. What’s more, her fierce passion for providing students of all ages, backgrounds and ability with the best education and training is not only strengthening our workforce, it is enriching our communities and changing lives,” said Dr. Richard Lilley, vice president of enrollment and students services at CCBC.
What is the one decision you made in life that had the biggest impact on your career?
In 1967, with a new Master’s Degree in Renaissance Literature in tow, I was offered a job at Prince George’s Community College. I had no idea what a community college was, but I was getting married and needed a job … so I quickly said yes. Here I am 51 years later, still a community college professional, having grown from lowly English Composition instructor to the president of one of the top 100 community colleges in the country. For me, what started as a job became a career; what started as a career became a passion; what started as a passion became a life!