As CEO of Compton Community College, Dr. Keith Curry is in a unique position to make the college ‘whole’ again, academically
By Yussuf J. Simmonds
Sentinel Managing Editor
Ann Marie Garten, Director Community Relations, El Camino College Compton Center
Born and raised in Compton, Dr. Keith Curry said “Our goal for this district is to once again have a college.” And as the interim chief executive officer, that is the focus of his goal: to make the college once again a bastion of academic excellence.
The Special Trustee for the Compton Community College District (CCCD), Dr. Genethia Hudley-Hayes, appointed Dr. Curry, who has served as the El Camino College Compton Center dean of student services since 2006, as the interim CEO.
In defining his position as CEO rather than the traditional president or superintendent, Dr. Curry said, “When the (Compton) college entered into the partnership with El Camino College (ECC), the title of president/superintendent to first provost/CEO because Compton Community College does not have a college. Then it was changed to chief executive officer when the college did a re-organization about a year and a half ago; so now we have a vice-president of the EL Camino College Compton Center, who is Ms. Barbara Perez and we also have the CEO of Compton Community College District.”
“Dr. Curry is widely known for his dedication to promoting and supporting programs to help students succeed and reach their academic goals,” said CCCD Special Trustee Hudley-Hayes. “His demonstrated leadership skills, ability to assess and quickly respond to student needs, and his familiarity with the Compton Center and the community are all assets he brings to this position.”
Many existing student support programs expanded and others were created under Curry’s leadership, most notably the First Year Experience (FYE). Established at ECC Compton Center two years ago, FYE offers a supportive educational environment that encourages student success through shared learning communities and services such as counseling, mentoring, orientation, and campus tours. The first year of the program, 68 students participated; by the second year, the enrollment more than doubled with over 140 students.
Compton Community College had its accreditation revoked by the accrediting commission since 2006 and at present, that accreditation has not been returned to the college. According to Dr. Curry, “Compton Community College District does not have a school or accreditation. By entering into a partnership with El Camino College, we are able to provide accredited courses on our site.” There is a Compton Community College District with no college and it is important to note that what has happened in Compton has never happened anywhere in the State of California.
Curry previously served at the University of California, Irvine as director of the Early Academic Outreach Program. In this position, he worked with incoming freshman students to help them succeed in college. While at UC Irvine, Curry was instrumental in re-establishing a partnership between local school districts, including Compton Unified School District and the University of California, Irvine.
Dr. Curry has strong family ties to the community. His service to the community included volunteering as chair of the Compton Unified School District Achieving College Partnership and serving on the Compton Unified School District Foundation board; he also co-authored the Compton Unified School District Gear-Up proposal during his tenure at UC Irvine.
Curry earned his doctorate degree from the University of California at Irvine, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Santa Cruz. In explaining his association with AB 318, an assembly bill that was authored by former assemblyman, Dr. Mervyn Dymally, and was the source of Dr. Curry’s Ph.D. dissertation, he said, ” What happened through the dissertation writing process, I came up with a topic looking at the effects the de-accreditation had on the faculty, staff and administrators. And from that I did a survey of one-on-one interviews and study groups examining how the de-accreditation of Compton College the employment groups. What I found from that was the staff, faculty and administrators at the district supported (AB) 318.”
“I look forward to this opportunity to continue serving students and my hometown,” Dr. Curry said. “I am encouraged by the positive spirit of collaboration I see as we work together with our partner, El Camino College, to achieve this goal.”
His professional affiliations include working with the African American Male Educational Network and Development (A”MEND) organization, and the Association for California Community College Administrators. Dr. Curry is married to Nina Elizabeth Scott-Curry, and has one son Kamilo Ali Curry (1 year old).
Dr. Curry assumed the interim CEO position immediately after being appointed. The search process for a permanent CEO, following Board Policy 2420, will get underway in the future.