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“Education may be about preparing you for an eventual career, but that’s not all it’s about – it’s for exploring your humanity and exploring the world, and your place in it.”
If ever there was a community college student success story, Harford Community College’s new president, Dr. Dianna Phillips, is it. Born in the hills of West Virginia, she began her formal education in a two-room schoolhouse heated by a coal burning pot belly stove and finished with a Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She graduated high school early and enlisted in the U.S. Navy at 17. She served as a communications specialist and was stationed in California, Hawaii, Iceland, the Bahamas, and England, moving through the ranks and furthering her education whenever she could. A first generation college student, her introduction to higher education was in a community college, culminating in an Associate of General Studies degree from Chaminade University of Honolulu. After 14 years in the Navy, she was honorably discharged as a Petty Officer First Class.
After her military service, Dr. Phillips began a career in higher education that progressed through a series of increasingly responsible leadership positions in community colleges and four-year institutions in New York, New Jersey, Florida, and the District of Columbia.
Prior to becoming President of HCC, Dr. Phillips served as the Chief Executive Officer at the University of the District of Columbia Community College. As CEO, she was responsible for the efficient and effective operation and management of UDC-CC, including educational programs, employees, facilities, finances, property, public and governmental relations, students, communications, alumni relations and philanthropy.
Dr. Phillips believes community colleges exist to fulfill three primary purposes: to serve students; to serve the community as the center of intellectual, vocational and cultural activity; and to be the community of scholars – the thinkers and doers and problem solvers – at the center of the community it serves. She said, “Community colleges are way stations, not destinations. Our job is to serve our students well while they’re on their journeys.”
When asked about her management style, she replied, “I’m a collaborative leader, aiming to lead from the center as an ally, a resource, and a partner. I practice servant leadership, and believe that relationships should be based on honesty, integrity, and respect for each other. The leader works in service to those whom she leads.”
Dr. Phillips currently resides in Havre de Grace. Her son Iain is a proud graduate of Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, NJ. Having earned a B.A. in Political Science from American University at age 19, he has since launched his own career in higher education in the president’s office at George Washington University.
She expressed her philosophy of the role of education in one’s development, saying, “Education may be about preparing you for an eventual career, but that’s not all it’s about – it’s for exploring your humanity and exploring the world, and your place in it.”
Welcome, Dr. Phillips! We’re so glad you’re here!
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