Dr. Kathleen Hetherington Thursday announced plans to retire as president of Howard Community College, a post she had held for the past 14 years.
Hetherington’s retirement will become effective Oct. 1. She was the first in the college’s history to be a community college graduate.
She dedicated her career in higher education to advancing the mission of community colleges. She has served as president of HCC since 2007, leading an institution nationally recognized for its strong academic programs and innovative approaches to instruction.
Under her leadership, Howard Community College has grown to more than 26,000 credit and noncredit students. In total, she has worked at Howard Community College for 22 years, previously as executive vice president, capital campaign manager and vice president of student services.
During her tenure as president, Howard Community College has achieved recognition as a “Great College to Work For” from the Chronicle of Higher Education and ModernThink for 12 consecutive years. HCC is the only community college to be recognized every year that community colleges have been eligible for the award. Equally impressive, HCC has been named a 2019 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award winner in the category of education. This award is the nation’s only presidential-level honor for performance excellence in organizations.
With her student-centered approach to leadership, Hetherington has revamped the college’s strategic planning process, implemented and increased the college’s dual enrollment initiative with the Howard County Public School System, added academic programs in high-demand fields, and focused on increasing degree completion and transfer to four-year colleges and universities.
During her tenure, the Howard Community College Foundation has raised more than $32 million to support students. In addition, she has secured public support to fund $282 million in college facilities construction and improvements, including building renovations, the addition of parking garages, and the construction of a health sciences building, and a science, engineering, and technology building. A mathematics and athletics complex is currently in design.
Well respected by her peers in higher education, the Association of Community College Trustees named Hetherington as its recipient of the 2014 Chief Executive Officer Award, which recognizes the outstanding contributions and leadership of a community college president.
The Daily Record recognized Dr. Hetherington three times as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women and named her to the Circle of Excellence. She also was recognized by The Daily Record with its 2018 Influential Marylander Award and as a Most Admired CEO in 2016 and 2020. Leadership Howard County honored Dr. Hetherington as a Distinguished Alumni for 2021.
In spring 2019, she and the college’s board of trustees were the recipients of the American Association of Community College’s national Exemplary CEO/Board Award.
Hetherington has developed strong partnerships with the community, businesses, organizations, and nonprofits. She has served on a number of local boards, including the Howard County Economic Development Authority and the Howard County Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Hetherington is on the Greater Baltimore Committee’s advisory committee on education and workforce and the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore’s board of directors. She was elected as an At-Large ExCom Member by the Alliance for Innovation and Transformation.
At the national level, she served on the American Association of Community Colleges’ board of directors and is currently a member of the Advocacy Advisory Group. Dr. Hetherington is currently a board member for Community Colleges for International Development, the Chair Academy, and the Alliance for Innovation and Transformation. She also serves as a commissioner representing Maryland on the Education Commission of the States and has been selected by Governor Larry Hogan to co-chair the Maryland Citizen Redistricting Commission.
Before joining HCC, she held progressively responsible positions at the Community College of Philadelphia, including dean of student systems. She was an adjunct professor at Delaware County Community College in Pennsylvania.
Hetherington holds an Ed.D. from Widener University, a Master of Science from Villanova University, a Bachelor of Specialized Studies from Pennsylvania State University and an Associate of Applied Science from the Community College of Philadelphia.