Judy C. Miner is living proof that you do not have to venture far from home to make a lasting impact on the world. Despite recruitment efforts by the likes of Harvard and Yale, Miner opted to attend Lone Mountain College (now incorporated into the University of San Francisco) after graduating from a nearby Catholic high school in 1970.
At the time, Miner had never been outside the Bay Area and the thought of moving far from home was not something she was comfortable with. Though these days she is much more comfortable with leaving the Golden State, she still calls Northern California home.
Miner now serves as the chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District in Los Altos Hills. She has worked as a higher education administrator since 1977 and in the California Community Colleges system since 1979. She has held numerous administrative positions in instruction, student services, and human resources at City College of San Francisco, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, De Anza College, and most recently at Foothill College where she served as president from 2007 to 2015.
Looking back, Miner has no regrets in passing up the offers from the elite Ivy League schools. Having previously completed 12 years of Catholic school, Lone Mountain College simply felt like home. She recalled her first visit to the campus with a friend and being very much impressed with the small class sizes and the rich, intellectual environment on campus.
“Private, nonprofit colleges and universities have a very special role for individuals looking for a specific kind of culture and environment,” said Miner, who was a first-generation college student.
She went on to earn her B.A., summa cum laude, in history and French at Lone Mountain College as well as her M.A. in history at that same college. She later earned her Ed.D. in organization and leadership (with a concentration in education law) from the University of San Francisco. Miner also holds honorary degrees from Imperial Valley College and Palo Alto University.
Her experience in college ultimately led to many opportunities outside the Bay Area, and around the world. For instance, Miner has been an invitee to present on American community colleges to the Fundacion Ciencia y Vida in Santiago, Chile, as well as the and the Forum on Science and Technology in Society in Kyoto, Japan. She also spoke about workforce training at the International Conference on Community Colleges in New Delhi, India.
Back in America, Miner also served on a working group in 2011 under the auspices of President Barack Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). The group produced the “Report to the President, Engage to Excel: Producing One Million Additional College Graduates with Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics,” which was later published in February 2012.
Although she now focuses her attention on running community colleges, Miner said her experience in the private, non-profit sector has played a large role in shaping her agenda over time. Her primary focus today, she added, is on student equity.
Miner would advise students who are now considering colleges and universities to look beyond the mounds of data available today. Sometimes the “best institutions” are not the “right institutions” for every type of learner.
“As anybody considers where they should go for college, they should follow their heart [and] look at it from an emotional, gut level,” she said. “It needs to be a personal decision made from both the head and heart.”