Campus News

Presidential Inauguration

Dr. Kristie Fisher becomes college’s sixth president

A packed venue at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center on Wednesday, Feb. 21, included an audience eager to witness college history as President Dr. Kristie Fisher walked on stage to receive the presidential medallion. 

Fisher began her tenure on Oct. 30, 2023, as the first Kirkwood Community College alumni president and the college’s second female president, following Dr. Lori Sundberg.   

At the ceremony, Fisher said she had previously spoken with colleagues and said she did not need an inauguration, adding that she believed it would save the college time, money and effort. However, Fisher said her colleagues reminded her the event was about more than her inauguration.  

“Kirkwood has a long tradition of high-quality education and training, and a tradition of exceptional service to our students and other communities that deserve to be celebrated,” said Fisher. 

The ceremony encompassed performances by the Kirkwood Faculty Brass Ensemble and the Kirkwood Concert Choir, followed by introductions, speeches and the inauguration of the new president.

Speeches were given by Kirkwood Faculty Association President Dr. Julia Rabe, Criminal Justice student Ellen Waynawhere and 2007 Kirkwood alumni Benjamin Smart, executive chef at Big Grove Brewery.  

Waynawhere was selected to speak on behalf of students. Last fall, she was one of the students who interviewed the presidential candidates. 

“We were told to jokingly ask these candidates very tough questions, but halfway through the interview, I wanted to hand her [Fisher] the position,” Waynawhere said. She said Fisher was very personable and it did not feel like an interview.  

After the inauguration ceremony, Waynawhere stated, “Before speaking, I was a bit nervous but like I said in my speech, Kirkwood has helped me fully embrace and recognize what kind of a leader I am. Me and other groups of students were asked to interview the candidates. I think administrators wanted to give students a chance to have a say in the process of finding a new president.” She added that Fisher personally chose her to speak during the ceremony. 

Mariam Nawar, biomedical engineering student who volunteered at the event, said, “I thought the inauguration was amazing. I’ve never experienced anything that embodies the traditions of Kirkwood in such a way.” 

Nawar added she was fortunate to have witnessed it first hand as a student and it was notable Fisher included audience participation during her speech.  

Fisher uniquely had audience members stand who are current or previous Kirkwood students and faculty. “Look at this room. Now that is powerful,” she said.  

Fisher illuminated how Kirkwood aims to help students succeed and, in her closing statement, she highlighted the college’s broad history. “I will always remember that we are Kirkwood, because like former Governor Kirkwood, we strive to foster hope, talent and opportunities for all people,” she said. 

President Fisher comes home to Kirkwood

Q: What desired you to apply for this position? 

A: I’m passionate about community colleges, because I’m a community college graduate. And of all the community colleges, I’m most passionate about Kirkwood. I wanted to come home.

 Q: What is your biggest motivator for the college’s success? 

A: Watching the impact on students. I know the impact the college had on me. But also, the impact that the college has had on all the communities that we serve. 

Q: How does it feel now, to be officially inaugurated as the college’s second female president? 

A: Just an honor. I’m delighted to be here. Honestly, I’m kind of glad it’s done, because now I’m just the president. I look forward to the day when I’m no longer the “new president.”

Q: What was an impactful moment you had as a Kirkwood student? 

A: There were so many. The most impactful moment was after I transferred and went to the University of Iowa. I went to one of my first classes as a Communication Studies major, and one of my classes, a small seminar, the professor called me back. He said, “Kristie, did you take Composition I at Kirkwood?” In my mind I was thinking, he knows it. I hadn’t been at the University of Iowa the whole time. I kind of looked at him and said, “Yes.” And he said, “I figured you did. Your paper was the best hands down.” I thought how impactful to see that there.

 Q: Can you describe some challenge’s you faced on your journey to become president? 

A: I applied for the presidency five years earlier, too, and I didn’t get it. So that was a bit of a challenge and a disappointment. But I knew I needed more experience, so I was able to bounce back from the first time not getting it. 

Q: What differences have you seen in the college when you attended versus now? 

A: It’s much bigger than when I attended I attended from the Fall of 1989 until December of 1990. I feel like there’s more clubs and organizations. 

Q: Can you give some advice for students attended Kirkwood on their journey? 

A: Get involved. Do all of the hard work in class, get the good grades, but do things like the paper, PTK, take advantage of those great opportunities. I didn’t do any of that, and I can’t go back in time and do it. 

Q: As president, do you have any specific plans for the future of the college, or anything you’re working toward now? 

A: My focus is making sure we are doing what we need to do to make students successful. Helping students along their path as well, whatever the path may be. And then, make sure we’re good community partners and involved in the communities we serve. 

Q: Anything else you’d like students to know about you or the college? 

A: I’m really happy to be here for all students and excited to see what they will do in the future. 

Image courtesy of Jeff Sigmund | Kirkwood Communiqué