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President's Bio

Kate Smith, Interim President

Kate Smith has been serving as Rio Salado College’s interim president since August 2018. With nearly 30 years of experience in education, she is a highly regarded and enthusiastic leader who advocates for student success on all levels. Smith understands the barriers that non-traditional students face and is dedicated to making education affordable, accessible and equitable.

Smith decided to devote her career to education nearly 30 years ago with one mission in mind. “Teachers and education change lives— quite simply, that is why I chose a career in education.” Today, she is committed to making education accessible to anyone who has a passion for learning.

“As the acting president of Rio Salado College, I am eager to further advance the progress that has been made to increase access and help students succeed here in Arizona, across the country or wherever they may be through innovative programs, services and partnerships.”

Smith joined Rio Salado in 2016 as the vice president of academic affairs and chief academic officer. In this role she was responsible for adult basic education, community development and partnerships, continuing education, curriculum, early college, faculty, library services, the honors program, incarcerated re-entry programs, institutional research and effectiveness, instructional design, instruction helpdesk, military programs, online and hybrid/blended learning, certificates and degrees and corporate and government partnerships.

Prior to her tenure at Rio Salado, Smith served as the dean of the academic foundations division at Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York. Early in her career, she was an instructor, was then promoted to the role of full professor and later served in administration. Prior to her work at Monroe, she taught high school mathematics and served as a consultant to Hobart and William Smith Colleges and local companies on college and career mathematics readiness.

Smith has a master’s degree in mathematical education from the University of Rochester, a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and German from William Smith College and is a Ferris State University Community College Leadership doctoral scholar.

In May 2020, The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program selected Smith for the 2020-21 class of the Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship, a highly selected leadership program preparing the next generation of community college presidents to transform institutions to achieve higher and more equitable levels of student success.

Smith is also passionate about learning, giving back, mathematics and supporting friends and family. She and her husband Dennis live in Ahwatukee and enjoy spending time running and hiking Arizona trails.