|Cindy L. Miles, Ph. D.|
Cindy L. Miles, noted for her innovations in education and her caring leadership style as chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, has been picked as the top chief executive officer for two-year colleges in the nine-state Pacific region by the Association of Community College Trustees.
She joins four other regional winners of the annual award from the ACCT, a Washington D.C.-based organization representing trustees at more than 1,200 community colleges nationwide. As the Pacific region’s pick, Miles is automatically in contention for the national CEO honor to be awarded Oct. 4 at the 44th Annual ACCT Leadership Congress in Seattle, Wash.
The association’s Pacific region includes a total of more than 240 community colleges in nine western states, two Canadian provinces, and three American territories in the Pacific. Regional winners were selected on extensive criteria, including innovative programs, committee memberships, empathy for others, educational publications, history of awards, and outstanding characteristics.
“Our Governing Board was delighted to nominate Dr. Miles for this prestigious honor and I am thrilled that she is being given the high-profile recognition she so richly deserves,” Governing Board President Bill Garrett said. “Our district works well because of the strong relationships that Dr. Miles has built with the trustees, staff, students and the community.”
Since she took the helm of the 27,000-student Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District in 2009, Chancellor Cindy L. Miles has been widely hailed for leadership, making tough calls during the worst financial period in community college history.
As the state slowly pulls out of the economic quagmire that saw the district lose $16 million in state funding between 2008 and 2012, and in the wake of the passage of Proposition 30, the governor’s tax measure for education, the district’s two colleges are gradually restoring the more than 1,600 class sections cut during the worst of the crisis.
It was during this period of economic upheaval that Miles took the lead in promoting the district’s own ballot measure, Proposition V, a $498 million construction bond measure that was approved by East County voters in November, despite naysayers’ questioning of the district’s move placing the initiative before voters. With the governor’s tax measure already slated for the ballot, concerns were raised that a tax-weary citizenry would shoot the bond measure down.
“Dr. Miles took charge of the effort, doing everything from meeting with service groups to working shifts at the call centers soliciting voters – all this was on her own time, in addition to her usual duties running the college district,” reads the nomination submitted on Miles’ behalf.
The economic downturn also influenced Miles’ efforts to strengthen the district’s fundraising, recognizing that community colleges needed to seek private funding in addition to state dollars. Instead of two separate foundations for each college that competed for donations, Miles led the creation of a unified organization, the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges, that could more broadly and strategically seek donors.
“I am humbled and very grateful for this honor, which I share with all the tremendously hard-working people at both colleges and the district,” Miles said. “I’m very lucky to work with Governing Board members who share a common vision of doing everything we can to help our students succeed.”
Miles, who in 2012 was the recipient of the Women in Leadership award for education from the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce, has even had a city declare a special day in her honor. That happened in 2009, when she was lauded by the city of Hialeah, Florida for her leadership as head of the Hialeah campus at Miami-Dade College and her service to the community.
More recently, she served on a steering committee for the American Association of Community College’s 21st Century Initiative, formed in response to President Obama’s challenge to increase the number of community college graduates by 2020. Last year, she represented the CEOs of the state’s 112 community colleges on a committee that selected Brice Harris as the new chancellor of the California Community Colleges.
In the course of 20 years, Miles has served many roles, from faculty member, program director, fund-raiser and researcher to senior administrator at institutions large and small: Paris Junior College, Austin Community College, the University of Texas at Austin, the League for Innovation in the Community College, Community College of Denver, Miami Dade College, and the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District.
A Texas native, Miles received her doctorate in educational administration from the University of Texas at Austin; a master of science degree in secondary and higher education from Texas A & M University-Commerce; and a bachelor of arts in biology from the University of Texas at Austin.