When you ask Keith Curry, Ed.D. ‚Äô11 what he is most proud of as CEO of the Compton Community College District, he gets up from his chair and motions for you to follow him. The path leads from his office in El Camino College Compton Center‚Äôs 1950s-era administration building to the Library-Student Success Center.
Curry beams with pride as he enters the sun-filled, two-story, modern glass structure that houses a computer lab, a library and study rooms. The facility opened in March after a seven-year delay due to construction issues and legal matters.
‚ÄúI want to give people hope,‚ÄĚ he says. ‚ÄúYou can be from Compton and be a success. Every student can be successful with the right academic and support services. I want students to feel special and at home.‚ÄĚ
Upgrading the school‚Äôs aging infrastructure has been a priority of his since Curry was appointed interim CEO in 2011. That‚Äôs why completion of the new Library-Student Success Center was such an achievement.
‚ÄúThe name says it all,‚ÄĚ he notes. ‚ÄúThe Student Success Center is the place to go if students want to be successful.‚ÄĚ Tutoring, supplemental instruction and library resources are available to all, whether they‚Äôre pursuing classes, programs, certificates or A.A./A.S. degrees.
As CEO, Curry manages the college‚Äôs $32 million annual budget; establishes its policies, goals and benchmarks; oversees senior personnel; and functions as an administrative team builder. He also determines the direction of the campus while setting the tone of the institutional culture.
Curry recently led a campaign to pass a $100 million facilities bond. In November, Measure C was approved by 78 percent of voters in Compton, Lynwood, Paramount and Willowbrook, as well as portions of Athens, Bellflower, Carson, Downey, Lakewood, Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez and South Gate.
It will allow the Compton Community College District to upgrade classrooms, labs, infrastructure and instructional equipment while also making much-needed health and safety repairs and energy efficiency improvements.
‚ÄúWe would never have seen the passage of Measure C without the completion of the Student Success Center,‚ÄĚ Curry says. ‚ÄúIt gave people confidence in supporting the measure.‚ÄĚ
The CEO earned a bachelor‚Äôs degree in American studies from UC Santa Cruz and an Ed.D. in educational administration from UC Irvine and UCLA ‚Äď a joint program that was phased out in 2007 as UCI chose to focus on its Ph.D. in education program.
Despite his lofty title, Curry is very hands-on. During a tour of the campus, he‚Äôs regularly stopped by students and staff members. He takes note of their questions and concerns and resolves to follow up.
‚ÄúMy role is to be a leader and not get caught up in politics,‚ÄĚ he says.
The Compton Community College District has had a tumultuous past. In 2006, Compton Community College lost its accreditation because of financial troubles and administrative corruption. It continues to operate ‚Äď as El Camino College Compton Center ‚Äď under a partnership with El Camino College. Curry was named CEO in 2013 to get the campus back on track.
His leadership is also evident at UCI‚Äôs School of Education and the Center for Educational Partnerships. He‚Äôs giving back to his alma mater with the creation of a scholarship for doctoral students in education who have demonstrated academic excellence and unusual perseverance. He is also working with UCI‚Äôs Early Academic Outreach Program in the Center for Educational Partnerships to establish a scholarship for students attending high school in the Compton Unified School District and enrolling at UCI in the fall of 2015.
The inaugural 2012 Keith Curry Scholarship was awarded to Andrea Cons, who currently teaches in UCI‚Äôs academic English/ESL program. In 2013 the scholarship went to Alma Zaragoza-Petty, a first-generation high school and college graduate. The most recent recipient is Ph.D. candidate Huy Chung, a former middle school teacher in downtown Los Angeles.
‚ÄúKeith Curry has been a wonderful, longtime supporter of UCI‚Äôs School of Education,‚ÄĚ says Dean Deborah Vandell. ‚ÄúThe faculty and students in the school consider Keith to be an important resource for the practitioner perspective, and all of us are inspired by his generosity and commitment to paying it forward for the next generation.‚ÄĚ