Tarrant County College opened a new chapter in its history with the appointment of Zarina Blankenbaker, who officially began her duties as the third president of TCC Northwest in early June. Blankenbaker is, among other things, an award-winning administrator, teacher, leader and public servant.
“Blankenbaker’s extensive experience in higher education, strategic planning, accreditation and resource development will enrich the Tarrant County College community,” said TCC Chancellor Eugene Giovannini.
The first-time president replaced Elva LeBlanc, who became the District’s first executive vice chancellor and provost. In April, following an extensive search, Blankenbaker was named president of TCC Northwest.
“As the new president, I am exactly where I want to be and could not be more pleased,” said Blankenbaker. “Having served students in higher education for more than 20 years, I am clear about my role and values as a leader. The campus culture aligns with my own predisposition.”
Long before taking the helm at TCC Northwest, Blankenbaker realized the College’s commitment to academic excellence and becoming a student-ready college able to meet students where they are and prepare them for academic and professional success.
“For more than 40 years, TCC Northwest has focused on putting students first. It provides a student-centered environment and aligns college resources to advance student learning, student development and student success,” explained Blankenbaker. “I am honored at the opportunity to build on the existing foundation so that I can work with the campus community to distinguish TCC Northwest as a campus of choice.”
She applied for the position of TCC Northwest Campus president due to her desire to serve at the College.
“TCC Northwest has a reputation in the community for being a campus where faculty and staff not only demonstrate a positive and caring attitude, they create an accepting and welcoming environment,” she said.
Blankenbaker came to TCC Northwest from Richland College in Dallas, where she served as the executive vice president of academic affairs and student success, providing leadership for more than 20,000 students.
“Blankenbaker has succeeded at every step in a persistent, progressive path of executive leadership roles in which she has led, served and excelled with distinction at Richland College,” stated Richland College President Kathryn Eggleston. “The broad scope of her student-centered leadership and dedicated service toward advancing the mission of our institution will be missed.”
Over the years, Blankenbaker hopes to enhance the campus’ relationship with the surrounding community by “responding with greater agility to the needs of the community.” She says this means being more visible in the community and improving the ways in which the campus gathers information and listens to the community. “After all,” Blankenbaker explained, “we are the community’s college.”
During her tenure, Blankenbaker wants to ensure that she is accessible to everyone who wants to interact with her, whether about an issue or an idea for campus improvements.
“Overall, I want my enthusiasm and excitement for TCC to always be visible and contagious to faculty, staff, students and members of the community.”
Blankenbaker earned a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education from Indiana University, a master’s degree in Applied Linguistics and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University of North Texas.