In her 31 years working in higher education, the past 13 as president of Howard Community College, Kathleen Hetherington has won her share of awards and honors.
In the last couple of years alone, the honors given to her or the college include the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award in the field of education from the U.S. Department of Commerce, recognition as the Best Two-Year College for Adult Learners from Washington Monthly magazine, and the Outstanding CEO/Board Relationship National Award of Excellence from the American Association of Community Colleges.
Hetherington also has embedded herself in Howard County, where she has served on the Leadership Howard County Awards Committee, the Columbia Festival of the Arts investment committee and the county Chamber of Commerce.
Hetherington said she is less concerned with her school achieving more than other community colleges than in achieving the most that it can.
“This steadfast focus on quality often leads to excellence in performance, and innovation in programs and services,” she said.
She cited HCC’s focus on closing the achievement gap, instituting a variety of programs that have resulted in higher retention and graduation rates among underrepresented students, including black and Latino students.
Hetherington earned her bachelor’s degree at Pennsylvania State University, a master’s in counseling and human relations at Villanova University, in Philadelphia, and her doctorate in education at Widener University, in Chester, Pennsylvania.
“I think one of the most important things a leader can do is establish a clear vision for the institution that is understood by all members of the institutional community,” Hetherington said. “We’ve done that at Howard Community College. Employees know that our collective and individual mission at HCC is to ‘provide pathways to success’ for our students.
“This is especially important during tough economic times like we face today in the midst of a global pandemic,” she said. “A mission that is shared and embraced by all, helps us make the hard decisions on resource allocation.”
“I think one of the most important things a leader can do is establish a clear vision for the institution that is understood by all members of the institutional community.”
—Kathleen Hetherington, Ed.D