The Navajo County Community College District Governing Board recently honored Kathy McPherson, with an administrative Emeritus award in recognition of her 22-plus years of service to Northland Pioneer College (NPC). McPherson will retire in December after adeptly serving the college in various administrative roles and most recently, as the campus manager at NPC’s Holbrook location.
McPherson’s journey at NPC began as a student herself. When her former employer, Basha’s, closed its doors in 1998, the local workforce development group offered laid-off employees tuition vouchers to aid in their search for gainful employment and obtain higher education. She was thirty-six years old, married, and raising a family. And she became a freshman in college.
“I was scared to go back to school,” McPherson relates. “I was worried I would be the old lady there. But that didn’t end up being the case,” she said. “At NPC we have students from all walks of life, all ages, all kinds. I felt welcomed at NPC.”
Upon completing her degree, McPherson applied for and obtained a position as the Faculty Secretary at NPC. She served in that role for five years and then accepted a position as the Secretary to the Dean of Workforce Development where she worked before heading back to the front office as Assistant to the Campus Manager until 2016 when she took the role as the Campus Manager.
During the November 21 meeting of the District Governing Board, NPC’s Lead Campus Manager, Jessica Kitchens, presented McPherson with the Crystal Eagle Emeriti award. She said, “To know Kathy is to love Kathy. She is compassionate and kind, and although she has faced many challenges during her career, she has always succeeded.”
Reflecting on her tenure, McPherson says that building deep relationships with students, staff, and faculty at the college is her greatest accomplishment. Having been much older than the traditional college student upon embarking on her own college career, McPherson easily relates to what non-traditional students go through. “I like working with students, talking to them, helping them sign up for classes. I enjoy being a familiar face,” she says. “Students come back after graduating and bring in their children or nephews and nieces to sign up for classes and say, ‘wow, you’re still here!’” By all accounts, McPherson’s nickname “Chatty Kathy” rings true. During the emeriti presentation, Kitchens explained, “Kathy talks to everyone she meets on campus; she visits with them and gets to know them for who they really are. She will be greatly missed.”