EvCC President Daria Willis takes news role as president of Howard Community College

EVERETT – On November 4, 2021, EvCC President Daria Willis resigned to become president of Howard Community College in Columbia Maryland.

Willis, EvCC’s 17th president, and first African American president was appointed her role in Everett back in April of 2019. She served as Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, New York before taking the helm at EvCC.

“This was a very difficult decision as I have enjoyed the progress we have made on behalf of students. This new position will bring me closer to my family, and it will offer me another opportunity to lead a college whose mission is providing pathways to success. It is an honor to lead at EvCC and I am extremely proud of the resiliency of our students, faculty and staff during the pandemic,” Willis said in the schools’ press release. The school is also closer to her family in Georgia.

Dr. Willis is confident in EvCC’s Board of Trustees to select an interim president to lead the school in a direction of success, “The board will ensure that there is a smooth and successful leadership transition,” said Willis.

When asked what she believes is the most important role the next president of the school needs to fulfill, she responded, “EvCC’s next president will implement the college’s new strategic plan, which formally puts equity at the heart of all of the college’s work.” Said Willis. “The plan, which was formed with hundreds of students, faculty, staff and community members, will be reviewed by EvCC’s Board of Trustees in December. I am proud to see the college continue to advance equity and inclusion work that is key to student success.”

During her time at EvCC, the college secured $43.5 million from the Washington state Legislature to fund the construction of the new Cascade Learning Resource Center; received $2.5 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Education to support TRiO and STEM programs for students of color, students who are low-income and students with disabilities; and earned a  $50,000 Rise Prize grant and part of a $100,000 Washington Department of Labor grant went to the development and launch of a Weekend College for adult students and student parents.

“While we are sorry that Dr. Willis is leaving EvCC, we are grateful for her many accomplishments during her time here,” said Board Chair Toraya Miller.

Another way Willis supported students was by choosing to use the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) to cancel $1.2 million in student debt owed to the college for more than 3,000 students who attended classes spring quarter 2020 through summer quarter 2021, according to the press release.  The college is also providing free on-campus housing for the 2021-22 academic year for current students enrolled in 12 or more credits.

EvCC’s Board of Trustees met in executive session on Monday to discuss future leadership of the college. No decisions were made. The board will make an announcement at a future date, which has yet to be determined.

Daniel Albert is an Award-Winning journalist majoring in Integrated Strategic Communications at Washington State University.