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Jonathan K. Jefferson to lead RCC as school’s 18th president

Mandile Mpofu
Jonathan K. Jefferson to lead  RCC as school’s 18th president
Roxbury Community College has named Jonathan K. Jefferson as school’s new president. PHOTO: Courtesy Jonathan K. Jefferson

The search for Roxbury Community College’s next leader is over, as the school recently announced Jonathan K. Jefferson as its forthcoming president.

Starting July 1, Jefferson, who will take over from interim President Jackie Jenkins-Scott, brings decades of executive experience in higher education, consulting and strategic planning to the role.

“I extend my heartfelt gratitude to interim President Jackie Jenkins-Scott for her exemplary leadership,” Jefferson said in a press release, “which has positioned RCC to continue its vision of empowering the community with an education that matters.”

He added that he was “humbled and honored” to be taking the helm of the predominantly Black institution.

Jenkins-Scott, who has led RCC for more than two years, said, “We just celebrated the 50th anniversary of Roxbury Community College, and it’s a wonderful time to have a new leader who recognizes and honors the past and the great work that’s being done here now, but who will help steer us into continued success … And I’m very confident that Dr. Jefferson can help with that and lead that.”

Following his start date, Jefferson will collaborate with Jenkins-Scott during a transition period as he acclimates to the new role.

Jefferson has spent the last eight years just across the river from RCC at Lesley University, where he held leadership positions as the chief academic officer and provost as well as chair of the institution’s business management division. Previously, he served as a dean at Clark Atlanta University and Albany State University and as the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s director of the Institute for Leadership.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College, master’s degrees from Cornell University and Capella University, and a doctorate from Colorado Technical University.

A 13-member committee led the search for RCC’s 18th president. Beginning in September 2023, the committee, co-chaired by attorney Sheriece M. Perry and Judge Leslie Harris and including two RCC students, undertook an extensive review of potential candidates, whittling it down to four qualified finalists.

As the search progressed, Jenkins-Scott said, the committee posted information to RCC’s website to keep the community updated. In the end, Jefferson came out on top, nominated unanimously by the board of trustees.

“RCC’s trustees are confident that Dr. Jefferson has the leadership, knowledge, skills and determination needed to position RCC for growth and long-term success,” said Sheriff Steven Tompkins, the board’s chair, in the press release. “We look forward to working with Dr. Jefferson, the internal RCC community, and RCC’s vast network of external supporters to ensure that RCC remains a beacon of affordable, quality education.”   

James Anderson, a recent RCC graduate, said the search committee was looking for a president who could “play a role in Roxbury” and “bring different ideas into the school.” As RCC’s former student-government president, he was one of the two students on the committee and was charged with representing students’ priorities in the search for a new president.

Anderson called Jefferson’s appointment “an excellent choice,” adding that Jefferson’s prior community engagement was among other qualities that made him a standout option.

The RCC graduate said Jefferson’s biggest responsibility will be filling Jenkins-Scott’s shoes and maintaining relationships with students and the surrounding community.

“I’m not expecting him to change what she has done, but just to expand … what she did prior to him coming into office,” he said.

Jefferson will be tasked with being responsive to “changes in both society and our communities around us,” said Jenkins-Scott. This means prioritizing students’ personal and professional needs, workforce development needs and academic programming and maintaining the resources necessary to ensure RCC’s success.

“This new president will continue to build on the strength of this college,” Jenkins-Scott said.

Jackie Jenkins-Scott, Jonathan K. Jefferson, RCC, RCC president, Roxbury Community College