Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Grossmont College president Sunny Cooke selected to lead MiraCosta College

Sunita V. Cooke
After seven years as president of Grossmont College, Sunita V. Cooke has been chosen to serve as the new superintendent/president of MiraCosta College in northern San Diego County beginning in January 2015.

             Cooke was unanimously selected today by the MiraCosta Community College District Board of Trustees to replace Interim Superintendent/President Dick Robertson.

            "Sunny Cooke has been an exemplary leader for Grossmont College, and her focus has always been on providing the best services possible so that our students can succeed," said Cindy L. Miles, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District. “This is a bittersweet moment for us. We’ll miss her smart, caring and charismatic leadership, but we congratulate her on achieving this new phase in her career.”

            Cooke began serving as president of Grossmont College in 2007 after spending 12 years in the Lone Star College System in north Houston, Texas, culminating in a position there as vice chancellor for workforce development. 

            Grossmont College, on a 135-acre campus in El Cajon, serves more than 18,000 students. It offers over 150 degree and certificate programs, including renowned programs in nursing and allied health, administration of justice, culinary arts, and theater.

   Cooke’s service at Grossmont College came during some of the toughest budgetary times for the college and the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District in its 53-year history. Statewide budget cuts beginning in 2008 forced Grossmont College and its sister institution, Cuyamaca College, to cut classes and turn away students.

            Despite those financial challenges, Cooke led the college's focus on planning to improve student learning and success. During the past seven years, the number of degrees and certificates awarded by the college more than doubled. Grossmont College’s student success and retention rates went up by 3%, while transfer rates went up 16%.  The number of financial aid awards nearly tripled, providing increased access to college for low-income students.

            During Cooke's tenure, the Grossmont College campus also saw a physical transformation thanks to almost $200 million in Proposition R bond funding, scheduled maintenance and state funds. Major projects included a new Health & Sciences Complex, the renovated Griffin Center and Student & Administration Services building, a new parking garage, and the remodeled Exercise Science & Wellness Complex.

            Cooke has also been an active member of the East County community. She has served as a board member of the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce, the East County YMCA, Sharp Grossmont Hospital and the San Diego County Workforce Partnership.

            At the state level, Cooke has served as regional leader for workforce development and on the state chancellor’s Workforce and Economic Development Advisory Council. Nationally, she has served on the American Association of Community College’s Emerging Trends Council.

            "I could not be happier about joining the fine faculty, staff and administrators of MiraCosta College as we continue to build on the 80-year tradition of excellence in service to students and our community," Cooke said. “However, Grossmont College will always hold a special place in my heart. Working together as a family, we have thrived during the most challenging of circumstances and continued to keep the focus on our students, our employees and our community. I remain dedicated to our vision of ‘changing lives through education.’ ”

            Tim Flood, who now serves as vice president, administrative services at Grossmont College, will serve as interim president following Cooke's departure. A national search will be conducted for a new president to begin in July 2015.