[caption id="attachment_10898" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Frances White"][/caption]

Frances White, Ph.D.

Superintendent and President

College of Marin

835 College Ave.

Kentfield 94904



MARIN COUNTY - When Dr. Frances White, president and superintendent of College of Marin, was a young girl, she wanted to be an opera singer. Her mother played classical music, and she would go to sleep hearing the sounds of the piano. Her father was a preacher, and she would sing in church. Luckily for the community college education system, she gave up that dream to become an educator.

Her accomplishments in education are many, not least of all her work at College of Marin to get through troubling times and an accreditation problem.

In 2004, the college was put on warning status by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

She came in shortly after this and through hard work and perseverance brought the school up to standard. Since this time, the school performs self-regulations and checks in with the commission regularly.

Wanden Treanor, a local attorney and a member of the board of trustees said, "I had the good fortune of being the board president the year we hired Fran. I have had the honor and pleasure of working closely with her the past five years. She is a truly remarkable woman. She is a great communicator and an incredible ambassador for the College of Marin. We could not find a better CEO. Dr. White has also modeled the critical importance of ensuring diversity and equality of opportunity - in hiring, in seeking input from diverse constituencies and in her messages to the college and the community."

Dr. White came to California from Houston when she was 17 when her father got a job in Los Angeles. She tried to stay behind, but after a few months, she decided she loved California.

Her first career plan was to become a psychologist.

"I wanted to help people," she said. But after a while, she realized that "I didn't have the patience to sit and listen to people's problems."

But she had the patience to become an advocate for people to help themselves through education.

Her grandfather was a principal and both of her grandmothers were teachers, so when she finished her master's in psychology, instead of moving on in the discipline she had planned, she focused on education.

Dr. White has a Ph.D. in education administration from U.C. Berkeley, a master's degree in counseling psychology and a bachelor's degree in psychology from the California State University at Hayward.

For her career, she has focused her time on community colleges, "because I am a product of community colleges," she said.

In 1977, she became the director of the Learning Resource Labs at Feather River College. Then she went on to teach Psychology at Merit College. She remained there for 12 years, and in 1990 decided to move into the administration side.

Her administrative experience in community colleges covers a variety of roles, including serving as the executive vice chancellor for City College of San Francisco and the interim chancellor of the San Jose/Evergreen Community College District.  Dr. White has also served as academic division dean at Evergreen College in San Jose and Laney College in Oakland.

Prior to her appointment at College of Marin, she served five years as president of Skyline College in San Bruno.

She said that being able to work with people has served her well throughout her career.

"I have a healthy vantage point of human behavior," she said. She attributes this to both her studies in psychology and her father being in the church.

When brought on at College of Marin, she had no idea what she was getting herself into. In her first year as president, she had to go though the accrediting process. As if that was not enough of a challenge, the board of trustees wanted to go for a bond measure, which she had to go out into the community and get support for.

"I am so lucky to have such a supportive board of trustees and a top-notch staff," she said. "Everyone is constantly motivated and inspired."

Her goals for the future of the college are to expand the capacity for resource development. She looks at the model of Stanford University and marvels at the income brought in by the retail and rents from the land it owns.

She would like to have something similar to that so she will know there will be a funding stream available to the college.

"I want to help make things better for people," she said.

Dr. White was recently appointed to the American Association of Community Colleges Board of Directors. She previously served on the AACC President's Academy Executive Committee and the AACC Commission on Learning and Communications Technologies.  She has also been appointed to the American Council on Education Office of Women in Higher Education.

Dr. White is the recipient of many awards and recognitions from educators and community leaders. She was the 2003 recipient of the Presidential Leadership Award presented annually by the Network for California Community College Foundations to the president or chancellor who has excelled in the areas of fundraising leadership and community relations achievement.

The oldest of six girls, she spent her childhood taking care of people.

"I still am taking care of people," she said.

And, though her colleagues hate it when she uses the "r" word, she plans to retire sometime in the next five years.

She is excited about being able to get back to singing. When not working, she and her husband, Harley, a retired music educator and well-known jazz artist, love to go to the beach and the symphony.

And, said a woman who has spent her life in the world of academia, "I love to read a trashy novel."