By Rodney Woodson
The search for a permanent president is over and the new leader of Contra Costa College will officially begin her tenure July 1.
A Bay Area local with an affinity for helping students, Dr. Denise Noldon’s business-first attitude, intelligence and dedication are some of the attributes that will allow her to fit in at CCC.
“She’s smart, she’s down to earth and she’s real,” district Chancellor Helen Benjamin said at Noldon’s meet and greet held in the Fireside Room on May 9.
“I think she’s exactly what we need at this college.”
When she received word of Dr. Benjamin’s choice, Noldon could barely contain her excitement.
“I received a message,” she said. “It was at a meeting and I stepped out to make the call. I was very excited, I let out a muffled scream.”
Although she has never worked at CCC, or within the district, Noldon finds herself in familiar territory. Born in Oakland and raised in Berkeley, the former Yellow Jacket graduated from Berkeley High School in 1973 and is acquainted with the diverse community she will lead.
Prior to beginning her current stint as vice president of student development and enrollment management at Folsom Lake College, Noldon served as the coordinator of the EOPS/CARE program at Las Positas College and was a counselor for Cal State-East Bay’s EOPS/CARE program.
She began her career as a college level counselor at Long Beach City College and also served as dean of counseling at Chabot College in Hayward.
Noldon earned her master’s degree in the field of counseling at Cal State-Long Beach. She earned her doctorate in the same field at the University of Maryland.
Kathleen Kirklin, vice president of administration at FLC, said Noldon has many strong points and effectively contributes to a variety of different college services and operations.
“I first met her when she was a finalist for her current position, in the fall of 2004, before being hired in January of 2005,” Kirklin said. “We thought she was a very good fit for our college. She’s knowledgeable about what’s going on at the district office. Shes provided leadership in formulating our procedures in student conduct, working closely with our student life office as well.”
“Overall, the fact that she is student-centered has been a positive force,” Kirklin said.
Before Noldon applied for the presidency at CCC she explored her options. However, she only submitted an application for that single position.
“It shows a commitment to where she wants to be,” said Benjamin, referring to reasons why she appointed Noldon to the position. “She has an obvious commitment to students. I think she can become anything she wants to be and work in any organization she wants.”
Interim President Daniel Henry said Noldon has made her focus clear.
“In my conversations with her I’ve been impressed. It’s clear she cares about the community she wants to work in,” Henry said.
“There have been cutbacks on access to instructional programs and student services over a three-year period and it has had an impact on the college. The work that needs to be done, she is willing to do and she is dedicated.”
Henry added that her warmth and compassion would serve her well heading the college.
Interim Vice President Donna Floyd, who met Noldon as a fellow colleague at Chabot College in the late 1980s, agreed with Henry.
“I think she’s a very good fit,” Floyd said. “She sincerely cares about students and student success. That’s one thing that stands out about her, that’s why she does the work that she does.”
Dr. Noldon’s fraternal twin sister Cheryl said she is not only dedicated to the students she serves, but is an inspiration to her family and friends.
“I’ve met many people who she’s mentored and befriended and many of them have kept in contact with her,” Cheryl Noldon said. “We have two nieces and she continues to be a motivator in their lives as well as the entire family.”
But before she walks through the open door of the President’s Office in AA-203, she must close the door on her time at FLC.
“I’m trying to stay abreast of things at CCC, but I’ve been very busy at my current college,” Noldon said. “There are a lot of things I need to be caught up to speed on (at CCC). Right now, I’m making sure I close out here.”