Dr. Skari takes up Mt. Hood College presidency

By Chloe Wilhelm - Staff Reporter

Dr. Lisa Skari, vice president for Institutional Advancement at Highline, will be leaving Highline this year to become president of Mt. Hood Community College. 

Mt. Hood, which is in Gresham, Ore., is currently served by president Debra Derr, who will retire in June. 

Dr. Skari will begin her duties as president on July 23.

Dr. Skari, who has worked at Highline for 26 years, has served as vice president for 12 years. 

She said that her work at Highline has prepared her for the presidential position at Mt. Hood.

"From teaching and curriculum development, to budget development and funding, to fundraising and advocacy, I honed my skills at Highline," Dr. Skari said.

"I appreciate the fact this institution gave me the support and freedom to pursue my interests, for the betterment of students and the college," she said.

Dr. Skari said that she hopes to accomplish a variety of goals at Mt. Hood.

"I was drawn to Mt. Hood Community College as it shares some similarities with Highline," she said. "It serves an increasingly diverse, increasingly less affluent community, and it is resource-challenged, even though it does amazing things in the community.

"I am hoping to work with the campus and community to leverage assets for better student outcomes and greater community impact. I [also] hope to pass the first bond since the 1970s."

In Washington, community colleges rely on the state to receive funding. However, Oregon community colleges rely on a combination of state funding and local property tax revenue.

When bonds are passed, they provide funding for capital projects, which includes buildings and facilities. 

Mt. Hood has not passed a bond since 1974, and currently needs funding to make repairs and upgrade their facilities.

Tamie Arnold, chair of the Board of Education at Mt. Hood Community College, said that they are looking forward to having Dr. Skari as president.

"Dr. Skari brings to Mt. Hood Community College over 26 years of community college experience," she said.

Arnold said that as a board, they wanted to engage everyone in identifying the qualities that are important for a college president to have.

Arnold explained that faculty said it was important for a president to have classroom teaching experience, community members wanted someone who was visible and engaged with them, and the board wanted an innovative and bold leader.

"We believe that Dr. Skari possesses these qualities and more," Arnold said.

Arnold said that in addition, Dr. Skari's experience with diversity and leadership "will be vital to ensuring the growth and viability of Mt. Hood Community College into the future."

"We are proud and are honored to have Dr. Skari lead our college into the future," Arnold said.

While Dr. Skari said that she is looking forward to her work at Mt. Hood Community College, she said that she will miss working at Highline.

"Everything I know about being a leader in higher education I learned at Highline. I have had some many wonderful opportunities, and made so many great friends," she said. "It's the people I will miss the most."

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