Salt Lake Community College’s Beloved President Deneece Huftalin Announces Retirement
Dr. Deneece Huftalin recently announced that she will retire as president of Salt Lake Community College after ten years of service in this role. As of her retirement date, June 2024, she will have been one of the longest serving female presidents in the Utah’s System of Higher Education (USHE) and will have completed a career that expands more than 30 years at Utah’s largest two-year college.
“I am incredibly proud of the journey we’ve undertaken together to strengthen student success, create a more inclusive environment and serve as a model for colleges nationwide in affordability, innovation, equity, and commitment to mission,” said Huftalin, who has overseen the growth of SLCC’s campuses from six to nine campus locations to increase geographic accessibility.
She has helped state leadership understand the pivotal role of community colleges in Utah. For students, she focused on increasing educational opportunities, bolstered college readiness, leveraged open resources (saving students millions of dollars), and raised record-breaking funds to increase access to scholarships and high-impact learning practices.
“I’ve witnessed firsthand how Deneece leads with integrity, intelligence, and empathy. Regardless of the types of decisions she is making, the experience and the success of students is always at the center of her thinking,” said Brady Southwick, chair of SLCC’s Board of Trustees. “She has modeled leadership at its best and she has set the bar extremely high as we begin our search for a new president.”
Huftalin’s influence at SLCC runs deep and has always been rooted in a student-first approach and is driven by a commitment to make higher education accessible to all. Prior to being named the eighth president of SLCC in 2014, she served in various capacities at SLCC, including director of academic and career advising, dean of students, vice president of student services, and interim president.
“Under President Huftalin’s leadership, strategic planning, and dedication to student access, SLCC has thrived in its mission to support students through transfer pathways and completion leading to meaningful employment,” said Amanda Covington, USHE chair. “On behalf of the entire Utah Board of Higher Education, I sincerely thank Dr. Huftalin for dedicating her career to higher education.”
The chair and vice chair of SLCC’s Board of Trustees have begun working with USHE to outline the search process aiming for the next president of SLCC, with hopes for the new president to begin June 2024.
"Watching Deneece lead Salt Lake Community College over the years has been truly remarkable," said Geoffrey Landward, interim commissioner of USHE. "Deneece's thoughtfulness, extraordinary vision, and dedication have made an imprint on each and every one of the college’s students, faculty and staff. Her legacy will last long after she leaves SLCC."
Under President Huftalin's leadership, SLCC has strengthened its role as a critical element of state's higher education infrastructure. In September, SLCC commemorating 75 years in operation. The institution has evolved dramatically in those 75 years, has undergone several name and leadership changes, but the institution continues to focus on serving a diverse student population and playing an important role in reconciling Salt Lake City's historic east-west socio-economic divide.
SLCC's role in Utah's education landscape is important and notable. Its student body is the most diverse of Utah’s secondary-education institutions. Nearly half of the students attending SLCC are the first in their family to attend college and most work while attending school. It is one of Utah’s most affordable schools, with 80% of its students graduating with little to no student debt.
During President's Huftalin's tenure, SLCC has taken on and accomplished many new projects and initiatives. With the help of Utah's vibrant business community and generous donors, SLCC has built many new buildings, including the new Juniper Building at SLCC's 88-acre Herriman Campus—a first-of-its-kind collaboration between SLCC and the University of Utah. Announced in August 2023 (pictured above), it's an innovative degree program whereby students may obtain an associate’s degree from SLCC and then easily transfer to the UofU for a bachelor's degree from the U, providing these students with two degrees from one location.
Among other developments under President Huftalin's watch, SLCC has expanded its technology and business education capacities, deepened its educational programs ,and has attracted new grants. And last week it announced it will waive tuition for qualifying Native American students.