“We are committed to creating a learning environment that is inclusive, innovative and responsive to the needs of our community,” said Dr. Heather Bigard during her inauguration as the seventh president and first female president of Lake-Sumter Community College (LSSC).
“Our mission is to provide access to affordable, high-quality education that transforms lives and communities. And we will do this by leveraging the talents and resources of our faculty, staff, students and partners across the region.”
The event was held on Tuesday, May 2, Lake-Sumter State College. The ceremony took place at the Everett A. Kelly Convocation Center in Leesburg and was attended by community leaders, trustees, faculty, staff, alumni and students.
Bigard brings over 25 years of experience in higher education leadership to the role, focusing on maximizing opportunities for learners across Lake and Sumter counties. As a first-generation college student, Bigard understands students’ challenges when pursuing higher education and is committed to improving student success outcomes to transform lives and futures.
During her keynote address, Bigard emphasized the importance of higher education in transforming lives and communities. She spoke about her own journey as a first-generation college student and the transformative power of education in her life. She also shared her vision for Lake-Sumter State College, highlighting the College’s role in providing accessible, high-quality education to learners across Lake and Sumter Counties.
“President Bigard, we have no doubt that you possess the vision, dedication and expertise required to take our institution to new heights as we shape our future,” said Bret Jones, chair of the District Board of Trustees.
The inauguration ceremony celebrated Bigard’s leadership and commitment to the mission of Lake-Sumter State College and included inspiring performances by LSSC students, welcome remarks from trustees, faculty, staff, alumni and community leaders, as well as a keynote address from President Bigard.
“As students, we are acutely aware of the vital role that our college plays in shaping our future. We come here with dreams and aspirations, seeking knowledge, skills and experiences that will enable us to make a positive impact in our communities and in the world,” shared Jordan Ackerman ‘23 during the ceremony.
“Today marks an exciting new chapter for Lake-Sumter State College, and we are excited to have a hard-working and motivated leader in President Bigard who will take this college to new heights.”
“I believe that her unique perspective and vision for this institution will serve as the foundation and the driving force for its continued success,” shared Chancellor Kathy Hebda of the Florida College System. “Her passion for expanding access to education, improving student outcomes through intervention and innovation, and building a high-performing and ever-improving team continue to be her way of work. Her transformative leadership is built on seeking both growth and sustainability; on a shared vision to expand programs through both academic excellence and strategic industry partnerships.”
“I foresee a very bright future indeed for President Bigard and for Lake-Sumter State College as she leads the institution in its continuing evolution and commitment to innovation and excellence in higher education,” said Dr. Charles Mojock during his remarks.
The inauguration ceremony was truly a historic moment for Lake-Sumter State College and an exciting beginning to the newest era of the College.
Amber Karlins (Assistant Professor of English), Jordan Ackerman ‘23 (on behalf of the student body), Lorena Markham (Enrollment Specialist), DeAnna Thomas (Executive Director of Lake Technical College), Heather Long (CEO of UF Health Central Florida), Dr. Charles Mojock (Former LSSC President), Kathy Hebda (Chancellor of Florida College System) all spoke to the crowd during the event.
The Oath of Office was administered by the Honorable Judge Jason Nimeth, also an alumnus.
About Lake-Sumter State College
Founded in 1962, Lake-Sumter State College (LSSC) offers a high-quality education at an affordable price to the communities of Lake and Sumter counties. LSSC embraces its mission as a community college to increase access and opportunity for all learners in its community. As a proud member of the Florida College System, LSSC serves more than 7,500 students annually at three locations and online: Leesburg, South Lake (Clermont), and Sumterville. LSSC offers non-credit, certificate, associate degree, and bachelor’s degree programs designed to support and prepare students to pursue their goals and join Florida’s dynamic workforce. LSSC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Learn more about LSSC at www.lssc.edu.