After serving eleven years as the Contra Costa Community College District (District) Chancellor, Dr. Helen Benjamin has announced her retirement, effective December 31, 2016.
A native of Alexandria, Louisiana, Benjamin joined the District in 1990 as Dean of Los Medanos College’s Language Arts and Humanistic Studies and Related Occupations. In her 25 years with the District, she progressed to higher level positions that included District Vice Chancellor, Educational Programs and Services, interim President of Los Medanos College and President of Contra Costa College before becoming chancellor in 2005.
“What an incredible ride this has been for me,” Benjamin said. “I could not have worked in a better place. I have been allowed to grow, develop and contribute alongside my peers as we have transformed the lives of thousands students. For that, I am grateful.”
Board members said Benjamin has left her mark on many aspects of the District’s three main campuses: Diablo Valley College, Los Medanos College and Contra Costa College. In her tenure, Benjamin managed a variety of District crises, including the 2006-07 cash-for-grades, as well as recurring dips in state funding.
During her chancellorship, the District has also benefitted from $736 million in voter-approved bond measures in 2006 and 2014. That money has paid for major improvements at the Los Medanos and Diablo Valley campuses, and similar work at Contra Costa College has started.
Among her many accomplishments, Benjamin remained committed to student success.
“She has always been a leader who wanted to make sure our success and accomplishments were done as a team,” said District Board President Vicki Gordon.
There’s been a common thread to her work, said Board Secretary Tim Farley.
“The number one concern for Helen is always, ‘How is this going to impact students?’ ” he stated.
According to the District’s website “Dr. Benjamin is passionate about maintaining an active role in a wide variety of professional and community organizations. At the local level, she is a board member of the Kennedy-King Scholarship Memorial College Scholarship Fund, a county-wide effort to provide District students financial support to continue their educational goals at a four-year or graduate institution. At the state level, Dr. Benjamin serves as the immediate Past Chair of the California Community College League Board of Directors. At the national level, she is a member of the Presidents’ Round Table, an affiliate organization of the National Council on Black American Affairs, and is a member of President Obama’s Commission on the Future. In addition, Chancellor Benjamin serves on the board of Excelsior College, located in Albany, New York.”
The Board will begin the search for a new chancellor at their meeting on Wednesday, April 20.
For more information visit www.4cd.edu.