Butte College President, Dr. Diana Van Der Ploeg, has announced she will be retiring in Summer 2011 to spend more time with her family.
Van Der Ploeg says she will miss the caliber of people with whom she’s worked. Additionally, she added that there have been “many accomplishments over her tenure including accreditation, greater collaboration on projects, and a more collegial and team environment where voices are heard and working together is the norm.”
Van Der Ploeg added that the college “developed consistency within the academic area and established incredible partnerships with others in the community and state.”
“We have received numerous grants to grow and support our programs, and we revamped the academic schedule to meet student needs and be more efficient,” said Van Der Ploeg. “We focused our efforts on increasing transfer rates, our student success initiative was recognized statewide and has had great success, we increased our career and technical programs, we solidified our reputation as a leader in many academic areas, and we became very intentional about student success overall. Contract Education and Workforce Development have flourished despite the economy in helping many in the communities we serve. We have truly lived putting students first.”
Van Der Ploeg is thrilled that the college has led the state in Student Services by being proactive in creating a Veteran’s Resource Center, a Culture and Community Center, a Call Center, providing a much higher level of health and mental health services, providing food for needy students, and providing overall services that help students succeed, including increasing the number of students on financial aid.
The president also stated in a letter to the campus community that the college “succeeded in maneuvering through the worst budget crisis we’ll hopefully ever experience, and did it without much trauma to all of you. We offered a nice retirement incentive for others, had no layoffs because of the recession, and maintained our financial health by prudent and careful planning and tying the budget to those plans. Plus, we leveraged our Measure A money to acquire approximately 50 million more dollars from the state to complete our building projects. We’ve been conservative in our budgeting to allow for millions of dollars each year in one-time money augmentations, and we were able to award salary raises when many others couldn’t.”
Van Der Ploeg said the college has kept its promise to the voters regarding Measure A in successfully building and/or remodeling seven major buildings and finished multiple smaller projects that benefited students and staff. The college purchased the Skyway Center under her leadership and received a 50 acre donation in Glenn County for a possible future campus.
She is also proud of the college being a national leader in sustainability which included a comprehensive approach engaging academics, students, staff, facilities, workforce development, and local communities.
“We became intentional about our relationship with our environment and one another thereby being good role models for our students, and we helped others do the same. We will be the first college in the country to be grid positive with solar and we have the most comprehensive sustainability outcomes of any college in the nation,” said Van Der Ploeg.
Van Der Ploeg also said she was happy with the college’s entrepreneurial strides with grants and the growth of our technology center which she adds, “benefits students.”
One crisis the president encountered while here was the serious natural threat to the college with the Humboldt Fire.
“We trained for natural disasters, and the Humboldt Fire reinforced why we have those trainings. We were able to help the community with our mock hospital as a center for folks who couldn’t go to the Red Cross shelter. Our nursing staff and students helped the community at a critical time plus the Governor’s Office said the college was the first disaster center in the state to help those with disabilities,” said Van Der Ploeg.
After eight years, Van Der Ploeg said she will be sad to leave the “family at Butte College.”
“You can tell that things are going well when students tell you how they love it here and visitors tell you they get a great feeling when visiting our campus. None of this happens without leaders at every level within the college and without everyone working together for a common purpose and goal. I’m terribly proud to have had the opportunity to lead Butte College for eight years and experience the wonder and awe of those who have made these accomplishments possible…,” said Van Der Ploeg.
Prior to serving as President at Butte College, Van Der Ploeg was the Interim President of Olympic College in Bremerton, Washington and was the former President of Spokane Falls Community College in Washington and Gateway Community-Technical College in Connecticut. Prior to that she served in a variety of positions at Aims Community College in Colorado, those ranging from Faculty Member and Department Chair in Emergency Medical Services, Dean of the South Campus, Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs and Associate Vice President of the College.
Her teaching experience includes having taught in the Community College Leadership doctoral program at Colorado State University, as a professor of Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine at Aims Community College, and as a public high school teacher. In addition, she also owned a consulting business, and worked as a Flight Paramedic with Air Life Rescue Helicopter and as a Paramedic with Weld County Ambulance Service in Greeley, Colorado.
Dr. Van Der Ploeg earned her Ph.D. in Community College Administration at Colorado State University, her Master’s Degree from the University of Northern Colorado, and her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Denver.
She was named one of the top 80 leaders in higher education by the American Association of Higher Education. She also received the Phi Theta Kappa Shirley B. Gordon Award of Distinction, the Mayor’s Proclamation for outstanding service in New Haven, and a Certificate of Recognition from Senator Aanestad for Sustainability. She was also named one of the top 20 noteworthy women by the New Haven Business Times.