CHICAGO HEIGHTS | The Prairie State College board of trustees has selected Terri Winfree, Ph.D., to serve as the college’s 14th president, the college announced Thursday.
The announcement was made following the board’s April board meeting on Tuesday. She will start her new position as PSC president on May 19.
For Winfree, it is yet another first she has achieved since starting at PSC as a part-time student. She is the first woman president of the college, the first PSC graduate to be named the college's president, and the first person in her family to attend college.
Winfree started taking computer classes at PSC as a part-time student to assist with the business side of her family’s restaurant, and she fell in love with learning, the college's announcement says.
“It was my experience in a learning community class that made me realize the importance of a well-rounded education," Winfree was quoted as saying. "Professors John Flannigan and Dr. Maurine Stein challenged me when I was a PSC student and made me think differently. I wanted to learn more."
After graduating from PSC with an associate's degree in general studies in 1996, she received her bachelor's degree in 1998 and master's in 2000, both from Governors State University. In 2012, she obtained her Ph.D. in education and human resources from Colorado State University.
Winfree’s career at PSC is extensive. She has served as vice president of community and economic development since 2007. Prior to that, she was the dean, continuing professional education from 2004 to 2007; associate dean, continuing professional education from 2000 to 2004; manager, Matteson Area Center from 1998 to 2000; coordinator, career training programs in 1998; and other part-time duties. She also has been an adjunct faculty member at Governors State University and St. Francis University.
Winfree’s focus will be on serving students, and she emphasized that all PSC employees are student success specialists.
“We are all in this together. We understand that today things are switching so rapidly that lifelong learning is a necessity,” she said.
Alignment of the education work force markets also will be emphasized.
“We need to focus on where our students will work. Businesses are constantly changing, and we need to have a realistic, philosophical approach to the regional work force needs. I intend to listen to all the stakeholders — students, staff, and community employers — and am interested in aligning what PSC does with the community needs,” she said.
As Winfree reflected on her education and career, she discussed the encouragement she received along the way to both continue her education and her professional development at PSC.
“So many people saw my potential and encouraged me,” she said. “I came to PSC in 1989 to take classes and never stopped, continuing on to get my bachelor’s and master’s degrees at GSU while working and raising my sons. Then, after taking less than one year off, I decided I wanted to become a vice president and eventually a president at a community college, so I decided to begin the journey of earning my Ph.D.”
As president of PSC, Winfree wants to do for others what people have done for her: encourage students and employees to find their potential and to act on those opportunities, provide learning opportunities, and help them to grow.
“I am thrilled and honored with this new opportunity,” she said.