Marc S. Posner
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Jack Scott - the longest-serving president in campus history, and the current chancellor of the California Community College System - will present the keynote address at Cypress College's commencement ceremony on Thursday.
His career in California includes leadership at a university, three community colleges and a 12-year term in the state legislature. In his current role, he leads the California Community Colleges, the largest system of higher education in the world.
Dr. Scott began his higher-education career as a faculty member at Pepperdine University. After 10 years as a teacher and administrator at Pepperdine, he became the Dean of Instruction at Orange Coast College in 1973. Five years later, in 1978, he became president of Cypress College. "I was fortunate to find my way to Cypress College," he said. "I greatly enjoyed my nine years interacting with the students, administrators and faculty."
In 1987, Dr. Scott assumed the presidency of Pasadena City College. After retiring from PCC in November 1995, he ran for the California State Assembly and was elected in 1996 and re-elected in 1998. Some of his measures included landmark legislation requiring all handguns sold in California to have trigger locks, ensuring that HMOs make prompt payments to doctors and hospitals, imposing tough new gift and loan restrictions on elected officials, ending credit insurance rip-offs, streamlining the adoption process, and making interest on student loans tax deductible. After his two successful terms in the Assembly, he was elected to the California State Senate in 2000, and re-elected in 2004. While in the Senate, Dr. Scott was the chair of the Education Committee. During his legislative tenure, he authored 158 bills that have become law, many dealing with education. He had the most bills signed into law by any legislator during this period. Among those he authored is the bill that gave new nursing slots to community colleges.
Because of his legislative leadership, Dr. Scott has been named Legislator of the Year by 15 different organizations. He was named Alumnus of the Year by Claremont Graduate University in 2000 and Abilene Christian University in 2003. In addition, Dr. Scott is a Distinguished Professor of Higher Education at Pepperdine University, is the first to be honored as President Emeritus of Pasadena City College and the first to receive the California Community College Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dr. Scott was born in Sweetwater, Texas, and graduated from high school there. He then received his bachelor's degree from Abilene Christian University, his Master of Divinity from Yale University, and his Ph.D. in American History from Claremont Graduate University. He and his wife, Lacreta, have five children: Sharon Mitchell, Sheila Head, Amy Schones, and Greg Scott, who attended Cypress College; their fifth child, Adam, died in 1993 at 27. The Scott family also includes 10 grandchildren.