Three women, each acclaimed for their leadership in the field of education, sat together in Levinthal Hall at the Stanford Humanities Center sharing stories of their pathways to leadership. Each of the panelists had once been a president of Foothill College, a top community college in California, and had overlapping journeys in which each successor sought the help of their predecessor.
Foothill-De Anza chancellor Judy Miner took her colleague Bernadine Chuck Fong ’66, MA ’68, Ph.D. ’83 to lunch when she was first applying for the job at Foothill. Miner described “picking [Fong’s] brain” about what the role of the presidency might entail. Thuy Nguyen, the first Vietnamese-American college president in the country, met Miner at a conference and immediately asked her to serve as her mentor.
“Asking people of privilege for money, especially as a woman of color, is no easy task,” she said. “So I wanted [Miner’s] mentorship.”
Fong, now a leadership initiatives director at the Stanford Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education (VPGE), began by describing her academic path to administrative work. She applied for the newly created administrative position at Foothill because she thought it would be good practice for her Ph.D. dissertation.
"Leaders in Higher Education: Three Different Paths to the Same Presidency" was a VPGE event that took place in November 2019.