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Foothill College announces Dr. Kristina Whalen as its next president

January 19, 2023

meet kristina whalenThe Foothill-De Anza Community College District Board of Trustees voted unanimously on January 9 to accept district Chancellor Dr. Judy Miner’s recommendation to appoint Dr. Kristina Whalen as Foothill College’s next president. Whalen, a veteran educator with 25 years of experience in higher education, will begin the position March 31.

"I am thrilled to announce that I am recommending Dr. Kristina Whalen as Foothill College’s eighth president,” Miner said in a message to district employees. “I am confident that Kristina’s skills, experience and character match well with Foothill’s needs — now and in the future.” 

Whalen brings a broad range of experience to her new position. She is currently vice president of academic services at Las Positas College in Livermore, Calif., a position responsible for supporting the work of approximately 450 employees and overseeing all instructional programs at the college, including career education, adult education and Middle College. She also serves in a statewide role as vice president of the California Community Colleges Chief Instructional Officers Association and is involved regionally in leadership positions with the Livermore Chamber of Commerce, Alameda County Agricultural Advisory Board, Tri-Valley Education Collaborative and Tri-Valley Educational Partnership Projects Committee.

“I am honored and excited to be selected as president of Foothill College,” Whalen said. “I look forward to working with Foothill’s talented faculty, staff, students and community partners in the relentless pursuit of equitable outcomes for all students. I thank Chancellor Miner and the Board of Trustees for trusting me with the responsibility to further the college’s inspiring history of educational excellence, equity and innovation.” 
From 2005 to 2019, Whalen worked at City College of San Francisco in the successively responsible positions of faculty member, director of forensics, department chair, student learning outcomes coordinator, dean and associate vice chancellor of instruction, enrollment management and instructional support services. Early in her career, she served as director of forensics and assistant professor at California State University, Chico. Current and former colleagues described her as a visible, engaged and collaborative leader. 
A longtime San Francisco, Calif. resident, Whalen said that closing the opportunity gap motivates her work. “As someone deeply entwined in the Bay Area, I’ve witnessed firsthand that Foothill College is a haven for the community and a unique engine of economic opportunity for its residents,” Whalen said. “I feel a profound connection to the college’s recognition that many students, even in pockets of affluence and innovation, do not easily experience socio-economic mobility.” 
Whalen takes over leadership from Bernadine Chuck Fong, Foothill’s interim president since Nov. 1, 2021. Fong previously served as the college’s president from 1994 to her retirement in 2006. “I hope you are as excited as I am with the announcement of your next president,” said Fong in a message to the campus community. “She is a leader that will serve Foothill very well and take you to the next level.”
Whalen was one of three finalists recommended to Miner after an extensive national search by a 16-member committee made up of faculty, administrators, staff and students. 
As Foothill president, Whalen will be part of the district’s leadership team along with the chancellor, three vice chancellors and De Anza College President Lloyd Holmes. Holmes and Whalen met as part of the Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship, a highly selective program aimed at recruiting and developing exceptional leaders who can accelerate transformational change and advance student success. The two were among a small group of educators selected nationwide to participate in the prestigious yearlong fellowship in 2020-21. 
Whalen holds a bachelor’s degree in socio-political communication from Missouri State University, a master’s degree in rhetoric and public address from Florida State University and a doctoral degree in speech communication from Florida State University.

She will begin the position at the second step on the president’s salary schedule, earning $249,559 a year.