January 14, 2009 (EL CAJON--“Dr. Cindy Miles, president of the Hialeah Campus at Miami Dade College in Florida, has been unanimously selected by the governing board as chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District. Miles replaces Dr. Omero Suarez, who is retiring from a record term of more than a decade. Trustees voted 5-0 to approve a three-year contract with a $245,000 annual salary plus benefits. Miles starts her new job March 1.
"The new chancellor brings enthusiasm and a strong commitment to collegial involvement in decision-making and an exemplary understanding and appreciation for the issues our district will be facing," said Governing Board President Bill Garrett.
President of the Hialeah Campus since its founding in 2005, Miles is credited with establishing a strong college infrastructure, developing master plans and setting up processes to put the plans into motion. In her application letter to the district and during interviews and forums conducted as part of the hiring process, Miles stressed the importance of engaging faculty, staff and students in aligning goals and establishing planning and budget priorities. The mismatch between community college needs and resources has been identified by Miles as a major challenge calling for creative solutions demanding the colleges' and district's best talents.
"Having managed major budgets at three institutions, I bring significant experience in building and managing budgets for complex organizations in volatile financial environments," she wrote in the application letter.
As chief operating officer from 1999 to 2001 of the League for Innovation in the Community College, a consortium of leading community colleges in the United States and Canada, Miles managed operations during a time the budget and staff of the league grew by two-thirds. Conversely, at the Community College of Denver, or CCD, she managed the instructional budget and shared executive control of the college's overall budget over a three-year period when enrollment increased 30 percent while state funding decreased by the same proportion. At Miami Dade College, or MDC, Miles said that in addition to managing the campus budget of the Hialeah Campus, she participates in the decision-making of the overall college spending plan at a time of major state spending cuts -- $21 million to date this year.
"GCCCD's new chancellor must be a skilled fund-raiser and I bring a solid background in resource development and institutional advancement," Miles stated, citing experience in grant writing and fund-raising to secure $40 million in grants and gifts, and in helping launch capital-enhancing initiatives at the colleges in Denver and Florida.
Garrett said Miles' executive experience in handling budgets is critical as the district gears up for anticipated funding cuts resulting from the financial crisis gripping the state.
"Her track record in accessing regional and national resources augurs well for leveraging our limited funding," he said. "This will be important in strengthening our ability to further the district's goals and objectives and bodes well for our commitment to the quality of education our colleges provide to the the region."
Miles also noted that flexibility and creative approaches are fundamental to the district's outreach efforts and program offerings.
"Today's learners are increasingly attracted to flexible learning formats, such as online, hybrid, weekend/mini-term intensives, and accelerated course offerings," she stated. "Digital audio and video applications that broadcast lectures and learning supplements (podcasts, Webcasts, iTunes, YouTube, Google Video) and social media (blogs, wikis, instant messaging, virtual worlds, social networks) have been demonstrated to enhance student engagement and success while addressing the expectations and learning styles of tech-savvy students."
Garrett said Miles' "œenthusiasm and vision" for the colleges are strengths the board found especially impressive.
Before assuming the presidency of the Hialeah Campus, Miles served as vice president for learning and academic affairs at the Community College of Denver from 2002-2005. She began her higher education career in 1989, teaching developmental mathematics at Paris Junior College in Texas, and spent more than a decade as a medical technologist. She joined the Community College of Denver in 1995 as assistant to the president and progressed in several administrative positions before her move to MDC.
Miles holds a Ph.D. in educational administration from the University of Texas at Austin. She received her master's in secondary and higher education from Texas A & M University--Commerce, and her bachelor's in biology from the University of Texas at Austin.
Hialeah Campus is the seventh campus of MDC, a state-supported institution in southern Florida with eight campuses. With a total enrollment exceeding 160,000, MDC is the largest college in the nation.
Coming from colleges with the most diverse student populations of any higher education institution in their respective states -- Hialeah's student population is 91 percent Hispanic with 70 percent native Spanish speakers -- Miles has had key roles in developing programs to improve retention and academic success. One program, called Project V-Coach, was a technology-based virtual student advising, tutoring and support system used to promote higher enrollment and graduation rates in Hispanic and low-income students pursuing fields in science, technology, engineering and math.
"Commitment to diversity is deeply woven in the fabric of the culture of these institutions and is expressed through multiple policies, programs, and practices," Miles wrote in reference to the previous colleges where she worked. "I carry my passion for social justice to the national level via service on the National Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion of the American Association of Community Colleges."
The selection process for hiring the new chancellor involved a nationwide search, interviews by a large and diverse search committee and the governing board, as well as public forums at both colleges.