Dr. Lori Bennett may be moving from Southern California to Clovis in the middle of summer, but the stifling heat doesn’t bother her.
The new president of Clovis Community College grew up in Bakersfield.
“I am really falling in love with the Clovis and Fresno area,” she said. “I graduated from a high school in Bakersfield so I love the weather and I love the area.”
She and her husband, Kenn Bennett, are looking to purchase a home near the college, where Lori will assume her duties as president on July 18. Deborah Ikeda recently retired from the position after 35 years in education.
“Clovis is the newest community college in California,” Bennett noted. “The background that I have in my previous work will really help me to help them as they are expanding the college.”
Bennett comes to Clovis Community College with more than two decades of education experience under her belt and a vision “to be an integral part of the local community and really be the college of choice for our students because of our academic excellence,” she said.
Bennett has served Moorpark College for the past 20 years, starting there as a business faculty member in 1996. Bennett became the department chair in 2004 and then dean of student learning for the college in 2007. Since July of 2013, Bennett has served as Moorpark College’s executive vice president of student learning.
Moorpark College has roughly 14,000 students, about twice the population of Clovis Community College, but Bennett said the two schools are a lot alike.
“They’re very similar and have very similar goals. My college is very focused on academic excellence and student success, and there is a very supportive culture on campus,” she said.
Bennett said her 20 years of experience at Moorpark College will assist her in guiding Clovis Community College through the building of its new programs and helping faculty and staff members meet their goals.
“The easier part (of working at a smaller college) will be that it’s small enough to be able to get to know everybody and build those relationships,” Bennett said. “Whether I’m working at a small, medium or large school, I want to do the same things for our students in helping them succeed.”
With the passage of Measure C by voters in June, Bennett said her immediate goal is to oversee the building of a new Career Technical Education building and developing the programs it will house.
“With the recent passage of the State Center Community College District Measure C facilities bond, one of my main goals is to provide a state-of-the-art applied technology facility for career technical and vocation education to train students for the employment demands of the future in areas such as the environmental, waste water sciences, occupational therapy,
food processing, electro-mechanical technology and more,” Bennett said. “Approximately $70 million from the Measure C facilities bond will pay for the building.”
Bennett’s vision is that CTE doesn’t just begin at the community college level.
“Another goal is to continue the very strong relationships with our local K through 12 and university partners so we can build the CTE pathways with the Clovis Unified School District as we build this new facility,” she said.
Clovis Community College will also expand its athletics program with a men’s and women’s soccer team forming this fall. The college has a new mascot — Clovis Crush — depicted by a charging bull.
Bennett also hopes to continue the college’s focus on student success and equity.
“We want to make sure that all students have the opportunity to reach their goals. My goal is to provide support services to help everyone who comes to Clovis Community College to be able to excel in their classes,” she said.
In the long haul, Bennett is excited to plan future buildings on campus and continue to grow the college’s academic and athletic offerings.
“I am truly honored and proud to have been selected and appointed as the president of Clovis Community College,” she said. “This college really does have a positive innovative collegial culture. I’m happy to be part of that team.”
Bennett earned her bachelor of science degree in business from University of Southern California, her MBA with an emphasis in marketing and finance from University of Chicago and her doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from California State University, Northridge.
She just celebrated her 35th wedding anniversary with her husband, Kenn, with a European vacation.
“We spent a week in Italy, a week in Austria and a couple of days in Moscow,” she said. “It was a big trip, and my husband actually planned it all.”
Kenn Bennett is a tax advisor. The couple has three grown children, all of whom attended community colleges before transferring to universities, Lori pointed out.
Michelle graduated from UC Berkeley. Kristen graduated from UCLA and will defend her dissertation this month at Arizona State University. The couple’s youngest, Michael, is a computer science student at California State University Channel Islands.
The Bennetts enjoy traveling, gardening and hiking. Lori is glad to move closer to her favorite hiking spot — Yosemite National Park.
“We love Yosemite; it’s a family place,” she said. “We’re excited to be close enough to run up on the weekends.”