May 8, 2023 (Denver) — Joe Garcia, chancellor of the Colorado Community College System (CCCS), announced Dr. Kimberly Zant as the sixth president of Otero College today.
With nearly 20 years of experience in higher education, Dr. Zant is a proven leader in advancing student outcomes, building strong and sustainable institutions, and forging innovative partnerships with community and industry. She will succeed current president Dr. Tim Alvarez following his planned retirement this summer.
Dr. Zant emerged as the best candidate through an extensive nationwide search. A nine-member advisory committee carefully screened dozens of experienced applicants and conducted open forums that sought input from community members.
Dr. Zant will be a transformational leader for Otero College and the wider Arkansas Valley region. Her background in business and teaching, coupled with her experience in academic and student affairs, make her the right person to take Otero into the future.” – Chancellor Joe Garcia
“Dr. Zant will be a transformational leader for Otero College and the wider Arkansas Valley region,” said Chancellor Garcia. “Not only is she dedicated to our open access mission—she has seen firsthand how rural colleges can transform and revitalize entire communities. Her background in business and teaching, coupled with her experience in academic and student affairs, make her the right person to take Otero into the future.”
After accepting the position, Dr. Zant told Chancellor Garcia she is excited and grateful for the opportunity.
“Growing up in West Texas, I come from a farming and ranching community and deeply believe in the transformative power of rural colleges,” Dr. Zant said. “I am also a former business owner and keenly aware of the challenges facing industry leaders, especially in remote areas. Working together, we can ensure Otero College honors the traditions of the region while becoming more flexible, adaptable, and resilient in meeting local workforce needs. Thank you to Chancellor Garcia, Otero College, and the La Junta community for placing your trust in me.”
Throughout her career, Dr. Zant has excelled at forging collaborative relationships within and outside the college. In her current role as Vice President for Academic Affairs at Cloud County Community College, located in Concordia, Kansas, Dr. Zant aligned curriculum to industry needs and partnered with K-12 schools to expand dual enrollment programs.
I entered the higher education field 18 years ago so I could support others in becoming the best versions of themselves. That is exactly the mission of Otero College, and I look forward to building upon its successful history as its next president.” – Dr. Kim Zant
Dr. Zant also specializes in managing institutional finances and resources. In recent years, she secured state and philanthropic funding that supported new capital construction. She led the development and implementation of a comprehensive enrollment management plan that resulted in an 11% growth rate between 2021 and 2022. In 2023, her current college was ranked among the top 25 community colleges by the Aspen Institute.
Prior to joining Cloud County, Dr. Zant served in workforce development roles with the Grossmont/Cuyamaca Community College District in El Cajon, California. There, she mapped career-connected education and training pathways and led the allocation of $14.5 million dollars in workforce funding.
Dr. Zant and her family will relocate to La Junta in the coming months and are eager to join Rattler Nation.
“I entered the higher education field 18 years ago so I could support others in becoming the best versions of themselves,” Dr. Zant said. “That is exactly the mission of Otero College, and I look forward to building upon its successful history as its next president.”
About Otero College
Founded in 1941, Otero College is located on a 40-acre campus on the southern edge of La Junta, Colorado. Otero is an accredited Hispanic Serving Institution that provides cutting-edge education that offers various two-year degrees, transfer degrees in preparation for four-year bachelor’s degree programs, and workforce-ready certificates.
About Colorado Community College System
The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) is the state’s largest system of higher education, delivering more than 1,000 programs to over 113,000 students annually through 13 colleges and 35+ locations across Colorado. Our open access mission ensures all Coloradans who aspire to enrich their lives have access to quality higher education opportunities. The System Office provides leadership, advocacy, and support to the colleges under the direction of the State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education (SBCCOE). Join us in changing the way Colorado goes to college. Learn more at www.cccs.edu.