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Welcome Acting President Bernadine Chuck Fong

November 17, 2021

Acting President Bernadine Chuck Fong

Veteran education leader Bernadine Chuck Fong will serve as acting president of Foothill College starting Nov. 1, Chancellor Judy Miner has announced. Fong was president of the college from 1994 until she retired in 2006.

Since 2014, Fong has been director of leadership initiatives in the Office and the Vice-Provost for Graduate Education at Stanford, where she directs the Preparing Future Professors shadowing program for doctoral students interested in academic careers, and the Stanford Institute for Higher Education Research. Her research interests include academic leadership, organizational development and community colleges as agents of educational equity, and she is a recognized leader in organizational transformation and faculty development.

Miner said Fong’s long history at Foothill would lend a steady hand as the college continues its transition to on-campus operations and implementing its equity plan. “Dr. Fong is an accomplished leader and is in a unique position to reinvigorate collaborative approaches to being student centered and equity minded,” Miner said. Fong is stepping in through June 30, 2022.

Fong started working at Foothill in 1970 as an instructor in psychology and child development, fields in which she wrote two textbooks, and served as Foothill’s Academic Senate president. She moved from teaching into administration as founding dean of the Palo Alto Center, Foothill’s off-campus education site, then went on to serve in various leadership posts including as dean of administration and vice president of instruction and student services before becoming president in 1994.

“I look forward to re-engaging with the exceptional faculty and staff who are so dedicated to serving their students,” Fong said.

During her original tenure as president, Fong was a champion of innovation. Under her leadership, Foothill was one of the first community colleges to offer online credit courses via the Internet in 1995. The college distinguished itself by developing an open-source online course management system, ETUDES (Easy to Use Distance Education Software), which offered 11 online associate degrees and more than 200 courses, and served a consortium of more than 50 community colleges and universities for 90,000 online students.

Fong initiated Foothill’s Middle College, a non-traditional high school magnet program that provides students an alternative to regular high school, in partnership with Palo Alto Unified and Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School districts. This became the basis for dual enrollment partnerships, which provide an opportunity for high school students to enrollment in college classes. Foothill has a large dual enrollment program.

During her presidency, Fong supported a mission-based approach to participatory governance. An accreditation team that visited Foothill in 2005 described “a college that is actively involved and deeply committed to students, a faculty that is dedicated to the excellence of teaching and learning, a staff that is devoted to providing services, and an administrative team that is able and engaged in providing leadership for the college.” The team’s report said that “Foothill College encourages and supports the involvement of the faculty and staff through their respective senates and campus committees in prioritizing and recommending campus policies and procedures” and noted that the college president “has created a climate of empowerment, involvement, and innovation.”

Long interested in professional development for K-12 teachers and the integration of technology into the curriculum, Fong was an early advocate for the Krause Center for Innovation at Foothill College, a high-tech regional resource center for K-12 teachers that has now served more than 23,000 local educators.

She has been an executive leadership coach for Achieving the Dream, a national organization of more than 250 community colleges committed to institutional transformation focusing on underachieving students, particularly low-income students and students of color. She has served as an executive coach for Hawaii’s community college system and for colleges in Washington state and New York City.

Fong worked for five years from 2009-2014 as senior managing partner for the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching located on the Stanford campus, and led the Carnegie Math Pathways initiative, which has tripled the success rates of students in mathematics, particularly students of color. The Math Pathways program has reached 80,000 students in more than 100 institutions, community colleges, universities, and high schools.

Born and raised in Palo Alto, Fong holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Stanford University. She has been a visiting professor and scholar at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education and served on the university’s Board of Trustees.

Fong has served on numerous local, state and national boards including the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the American Association for Higher Education, American Association of Community Colleges, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, John W. Gardener Center for Youth and Communities, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and Menlo College. She is a fellow of the American Leadership Forum of Silicon Valley and the American Council on Education.