Richland College is losing a veteran leader at the end of the school year.
Dr. Zarina Blankenbaker is moving on to become president of the Northwest Campus of Tarrant County College in Fort Worth. She served as executive vice president for academic affairs and student success at Richland for 20 years.
Blankenbaker did not look for the position but was selected by Tarrant County to fill the vacancy.
“They felt the culture of the Northwest Campus would fit my leadership style and what I value in a community college,” she said.
Blankenbaker is excited to execute her style at the highest level.
“I believe in being authentic and not putting on a persona but relating to people genuinely. I like to explore innovative strategies and so I want to be at a college campus that will allow me to do that,” she said.
Blankenbaker expects faculty and staff to be open to new ways of improving the campus.
Moving from vice president to president brings Blankenbaker to the top ranks of her career. She did not previously want to be a college president although she had been encouraged by colleagues throughout her career.
Blankenbaker is an immigrant from Malaysia and found support in America to bring her this far in her career. Being president will “provide me with the opportunity to pay it forward,” she said. It will also bring greater responsibilities, but Blankenbaker said she is up for the challenge. “I’m quite confident that I will do a very good job,” she said.
Staying at Richland in the position of vice president would be easier, but she said, “if I wanted easier I wouldn’t be in higher education. There are many professions that pay better and that are less demanding. Education truly helps improves lives because it’s a portal to a better job and better quality of living.”