Dr. Linda M. Thor is chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, one of the most prominent community college districts in the nation, serving more than 60,000 students each year in Silicon Valley. A nationally recognized innovator in education, Dr. Thor is the sixth chancellor since the district’s founding in 1957. She succeeds Martha J. Kanter, who left the district to serve as under secretary of education in the administration of President Barack Obama.
Before joining Foothill-De Anza on Feb. 16, 2010, Dr. Thor served for nearly 20 years as president of Rio Salado College in Tempe, Arizona, one of 10 colleges in the Maricopa Community College District. Under her leadership, Rio Salado became known for effectively using technology to serve working adults through distance education, offering customized degree and certificate programs for corporations and government, and providing accelerated learning programs, such as dual enrollment for ambitious high school students. During her tenure enrollment increased 252 percent.
Prior to becoming Rio Salado’s president in 1990, Dr. Thor was president of West Los Angeles College in Culver City, California. During her fours at West L.A., she obtained state funding for major capital construction projects, saw the enrollment increase 48 percent, and introduced a number of innovative programs.
Dr. Thor’s appointment as West Los Angeles College president in March 1986 followed a successful tenure as senior director of occupational and technical education for the Los Angeles Community College District, where she administered over $20 million in technical training programs under federal and state grants. Earlier she served as director of high technology centers and services. For six years Dr. Thor was the director of communications services for the nine-college district. Before joining the Los Angeles district in 1974 as a public information officer, she was director of public information for the Pepperdine University School of Continuing Education.
Active at the national level, she serves on the board of the League for Innovation in the Community College, the executive council of the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET), the Commission on Lifelong Learning for the American Council on Education, the board of the Community College Baccalaureate Association and is a member of the Leadership Circle of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appointed her to serve on the Committee on Measures of Student Success, made up of 15 higher education leaders.
She was honored recently with lifetime achievement awards from CAEL, the Council for Experiential Learning, on whose board she served for many years, and the National University Technology Network, which presented her with its Distinguished Service Award.
She currently serves on the board of Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network; the University Associates-Silicon Valley Board of Governors; and the NOVA Workforce Board of Silicon Valley, which addresses the workforce investment needs of the region, and promotes opportunity and shared prosperity. She also holds membership on the Peninsula Clergy Network Community Advisory Board, American Leadership Forum Silicon Valley Class XXlll and the Telecommunications and Technology Advisory Committee of the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office. She was active on many community and non-profit organization boards during her tenure at Rio Salado, including the Friends of Public Radio Arizona, and served by gubernatorial appointment on the Arizona Department of Economic Security Venture Team Board and the Arizona Partnership for the New Economy Steering Committee.
Dr. Thor is a frequent speaker and author who holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Pepperdine University, a master of public administration degree from California State University–Los Angeles and a doctor of education degree in community college administration from Pepperdine University. Dr. Thor has served as adjunct faculty for the UCLA School of Education, Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology, Rio Salado College and Northern Arizona University.
As a native Californian, Dr. Thor is gratified to again have the opportunity to serve the people of her home state.