Cheryl Roberts is the new president of Shoreline Community College, the eighth in the 50-year history of the institution.
Roberts took the reins on Friday, Aug. 1, 2014. Staff and faculty gathered in the college gallery for an informal event to mark the transition to Roberts’ leadership from that of outgoing interim president Daryl Campbell.
“I’m very happy, very excited to be here at Shoreline,” Roberts said at the gathering. “How could one not be excited to be at a college with the vision of being a world-class leader in student success and community engagement?”
While Roberts grew up in Tacoma, Wash., her family roots extend to the South at a time when segregation was the rule. Her father, LeRoy Roberts, Jr., was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen and a decorated African-American fighter pilot in WWII. Her mother was an academic librarian. With a strong focus on education at home, Roberts went on to graduate from Seattle University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, earn a Master of Arts in Student Personnel Administration in Higher Education from the Ohio State University and eventually a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Seattle University.
For the past seven years, Roberts served as president at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Ore. Before going to Oregon, she was a vice president at then-South Seattle Community College and held other positions in the Seattle system as well as at the University of Washington.
“There is really nothing like working at a community college where there is such a tremendous opportunity to make such a difference in so many lives,” Roberts said.
Roberts said that along with her education and professional experience, growing up in the South and Tacoma has helped to shape the way she approaches her job. “I do have a lens,” she said. “I have a heart for access and diversity.”
Roberts told the gathering on Friday that she intends to take the first 100 days “listening to you.” She said she was attracted to Shoreline by the strong reputation for excellence in university transfer and professional-technical programs. “What really won me over is the sense of community, that we are all here for the students and to create an environment where everyone can do their best work,” she said.
Roberts is a voice for higher education at the national level. She is a member of the Board of Directors for the American Association of Community Colleges. She sits on the association’s executive committee and chairs the Committee on Program Initiatives and Workforce Training.
Following a national search, Roberts was the unanimous choice by Shoreline’s Board of Trustees on April 21, 2014. She takes over from Campbell, who had been vice president for administrative services since 2008 and served for the past year as interim president during the search process. Campbell was recently appointed president and CEO of Seattle Goodwill Industries. The presidential position was opened in July, 2013, when then-president Lee Lambert left to become chancellor of the Pima Community College system in Tucson, Ariz.