On Tuesday, Katharine Winograd, the longest-serving president in Central New Mexico Community College’s history, announced her plans to retire next year.
“I have experienced so much joy serving as president of this wonderful community college. And that’s because the people I work with at CNM care so deeply about our students, our community and our state,” she said in a news release. “That was the CNM culture long before I arrived, and it will carry on long after I’m gone.”
Winograd, 62, has been at the helm of the community college for 12 years and has worked at the college for more than 22 years. She is the fifth president in CNM’s 54 years.
“It would be impossible to communicate with any accuracy all of the emotions I am experiencing as I write my official letter to let you know I will be retiring at the end of my contract,” Winograd wrote to the college’s Governing Board. “However, I know the time has come for me to hand over the reins to President Number Six.”
The CNM board officially accepted her retirement plans at its Tuesday meeting. Winograd has agreed to stay on as CNM’s president until a new president is hired or until her contract expires on June 30, 2020, whichever comes first.
“She is a special lady who really did a fantastic job for the institution and for the students,” said Albuquerque Economic Development President Gary Tonjes. “I think that’s where she really shined and why the institution was so successful during her tenure – because of her focus on the students and student achievement, meeting the needs of students and the community.”
The stability CNM has enjoyed under Winograd stands in contrast to the University of New Mexico, which has had five presidents since Winograd was named CNM president in February 2007.
Pauline Garcia, chairwoman of CNM’s Governing Board, said that stability gave the community confidence in the college.
“I think whenever you have that tenure … it lets the community know that this is not going to be a rocky relationship,” Garcia told the Journal. “Everything they do is going to have a lot of continuity to it.”
In a prepared statement, Garcia praised Winograd’s leadership.
“Our college, our students, our community and our state’s economy have been so fortunate to have President Winograd leading the state’s largest community college for the past 12 years,” she said.
“She has been a visionary higher education leader throughout her tenure, always focused on helping more students access higher education, then providing the innovative support systems and high-quality programs they need to persevere and graduate. At the same time, she has always nurtured partnerships across different sectors and developed bold new initiatives that have helped move our state forward in so many ways.”
In 2009 – during Winograd’s tenure – CNM surpassed UNM as the largest higher education institution in the state in number of students. The community college also worked with UNM to make it easier for students to transfer between the two institutions.
A news release announcing Winograd’s retirement also touted the success the college has had educating minority students in recent years.
For the 2014-15 academic year, CNM ranked No. 1 among community colleges in the country for the number of associate degrees and certificates awarded to both Hispanic and Native American students and No. 2 overall for total associate degrees and certificates awarded. Preliminary data show that the college earned the same distinction in the 2016-17 academic year.
Garcia credited the work Winograd did keeping the cost of tuition low while also making sure the degrees offered had a practical use in the community. She pointed out some of the unique career paths that students can prepare for at CNM, whether the student wants to become a brewer, police officer or pharmacist.
“Students come through the program and they are employable at the end,” Garcia said.
Winograd, CNM’s first female president, has also been active in the community, having served on several boards, including the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, the United Way of Central New Mexico, Presbyterian Healthcare Services, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City (Denver Branch Board of Directors), and the Board of Directors for the New Mexico Independent Community Colleges.
Tonjes praised Winograd for her willingness to “take on pretty much anything” to help the community or her students, even when it meant changing her calendar to accommodate a last-minute request to meet with a prospective employer considering setting up shop in Albuquerque.
“I think (CNM) reached deeper and stretched its arms wider than ever before in terms of understanding what the needs of the community were and then being innovative in creating solutions and programs to meet those needs,” Tonjes said.