Getting to know Dr. Kristina Whalen – Foothill College’s New President

A former educator, administrator, and advocate for education, Dr. Kristina Whalen, Foothill Colleges’ new President, presents a strong portfolio coming into her new position.

President Whalen’s term begins on March 31st as the eighth president of Foothill College. She will strive to preserve Foothill’s reputation of being at the forefront of virtual education as well as its title as the best community college in California (Niche) while ensuring that all students receive the highest quality education.

Dr. Whalen brings more than 25 years of experience in administration and teaching, previously holding administrative positions such as Vice President of Academic Services at Las Positas College, Dean for the School of Fine Applied and Communication Arts, and Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Instructional Support for City College of San Francisco.

Dr. Whalen began her educational career as a speech and debate coach during graduate school, later continuing to teach as a communications professor at Chico State and City College of San Francisco before kicking off her career in administrative roles.

Dr. Whalen is originally from Washington, DC. However, due to her father’s position as a secret service agent, Dr. Whalen moved around quite a lot with her family, living in Virginia during her early education and later finishing Middle School and High School in Springfield, Missouri. She continued her higher education, first at the University of Tulsa, then at Missouri State University, completing her bachelor’s degree in socio-political communication.

President Whalen then went on to attend Florida State University in Tallahassee, earning her master’s and doctorate of philosophy in Speech Communication and Rhetoric.

For Dr. Whalen, following this educational journey was not always in her plans. Initially, Whalen’s goal was to become a broadcast journalist; she began competing in Speech and Debate at the age of 14 and hoped to translate her speech-building skills into a career. However, in college, she began to explore topics in Political Science through her participation in Speech and Debate, which led her to the Sociopolitical Communication major. Once President Whalen began her journey in higher education, she made the decision to go to graduate school and complete both her master’s and Ph.D.

As President, Dr. Kristina Whalen will aim to maintain Foothill Colleges’ mission [to] “ obtain equity in the achievement of student outcomes for all California student populations, and are guided by our core values of honesty, integrity, trust, openness, transparency, forgiveness, and sustainability.”

President Whalen would be implementing this mission through “the feedback and conversations that I am going to have with students about the way this college is serving their goals,” adding, “it’s important to sit with those words [the mission] and not just see them as positive words [after positive words] but reflect on what it means to go to a college that is devoted to sustainability, to be a college that embraces forgiveness.”