The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

A president’s perspective

City College President Kathryn Jeffery began her distinguished career at City College in 1981 and has been president of the college since 2008. Photo by ||Jack Remson|| [email protected]

Becoming president of a large community college is not an easy task. However, when the path is filled with inspiring people and positive influences, it becomes less daunting.

Dr. Kathryn Jeffery has been City College’s president since March 2008. Her journey to the top spot has been filled with many stops and role models, but it began in Oklahoma City where she was born and raised.

An early family influence for Jeffery was her grandmother.

“I would call her a business woman,” says Jeffery about the woman who sold eggs.

Jeffery’s grandmother lived in Arcadia, Oklahoma, a small town northeast of Oklahoma City.

She had a few cows and roughly 30 chickens. On weekends she would travel to Oklahoma
City to sell the eggs.

Teachers and friends noticed that Jeffery had an aptitude for academics at an early age. Her neighbor, Ms. Gracey was a teacher and Jeffery remembers that she would visit Ms. Gacey often.

“She would use me as a test pilot for her class,” Jeffery says with a laugh. “I thought they were games, but because of those I was never fearful of a test.”

Jeffery attended Oklahoma State University and received her bachelor’s degree in music in 1975 and her masters degree in counseling in 1977. Fresh out of college, Jeffery applied to work at the University of Texas, Austin. The economy was down and there was a moratorium placed on hiring. She interviewed well, but because of the hiring freeze they could not bring her on board. As a result she continued to interview with other schools; one of which was California State University, Sacramento. The college could not afford to fly her out to interview, and Jeffery couldn’t pay for it herself, so the interview was done over the phone, and she got a job in student housing.

When Jeffery started at City College in 1981, she recalls working with Nelwyn England in the counseling department.

“She was very instrumental in my success as a young counselor,” says Jeffery. “Nelwyn was the one that stressed the importance of accuracy and information that I would give to the students.”

According to Jeffery, England taught her young mentee which questions to ask and how to be a good listener during a counseling session.

Jeffery also began a friendship with Barbara Davis-Lyman, who taught sociology at City College for 38 years.

“President Jeffery has a unique ability to hear what is being said and also to hear what is not being said,” says Davis-Lyman.

“Barbara was one of those folks that would take you under her wing,” Jeffery says of her friend. “And if she could help point you in the right direction, then she would do so.”
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Davis-Lyman retired in spring 2009 and currently sits on the Board of Governors through the State Chancellors Office of Community Colleges.

“She was an influence on me as well,” says Davis-Lyman. “Sometimes there can be this synergy between two people when they work together.”

Patricia Stanton-Nelsoen came to City College in 1983 as a student. One year later she began working in the counseling office as a student help-worker.

“I was just a single mom with a latch-key kid,” says Stanton-Nelsoen. “[Jeffery] showed me the possibilities and encouraged me along the way.”

Eventually Stanton-Nelsoen became a full-time staff member and she continues to work as a counseling clerk today.

Another major influence in Jeffery’s life was a former math instructor, Dr. Queen Randall.

“I knew of Queen Randall initially through her outstanding reputation in community colleges in Texas and also here in California,” Jeffery says.

In 1984 Randall became president of American River College and would eventually become the chancellor of Los Rios Community College District in 1993.

“She had this quiet dignity about her,” Jeffery says of Randall. “I watched and admired her as she moved in her career.”

Leaving City College in 1991, Jeffery moved forward with her own career taking administrative positions at community colleges across the country. She returned to City College in 2008 to take on the role of president; her former colleagues knew she would be a good fit.

“Kathryn has a moral compass,” says Davis-Lyman, “and that is a rare thing to find nowadays.”

“Dr. Jeffery is passionate about students, which is one of the things that made her such a good choice to lead SCC,” says Brice Harris, the chancellor of the Los Rios district. “Her counseling background and her extensive administrative experience made her a great fit for the college, and the fact that she had previously served the college made her an ideal role model for students.”

Even faculty hired in recent years express their admiration.

“President Jeffery is awesome,” says City College art instructor Gioia Fonda. “I am really impressed with our leadership. She has so many teachers and staff, and she knows all of our names.”

As a strong leader President Jeffery is now in a position where she can inspire people who are filling the shoes she once wore.

“She’s never forgotten where she came from,” says Stanton-Nelsoen. “I knew she’d be a good president.”

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