Dr. Rachel Rosenthal likes the word “potential.”
“It’s the word you hear so many people using to describe Folsom Lake College with the talent of the staff and their committment to the college and the tremendous resources that are available here,” said the new president of Folsom Lake College.
“In 12 years the college has gone from portable buildings on the top of a hill with rattlesnakes and limited offerings to a place where students can come and have a state-of-the-art educational experience and we have the potential to do even more,” she said.
Rosenthal, 55, has been on the job since July 2 when she replaced Thelma Scott-Skillman, who retired last fall.
“At the moment, my focus is learning about the college and its history and meeting our internal college community,” said Rosenthal. “I want to meet the faculty and staff, trying to understand their focus and vision first before meeting with the external community.”
Rosenthal will oversee nearly 9,000 students each semester and hundreds of full-time and part-time faculty and classified staff between the main campus in Folsom, the outreach site in Rancho Cordova and the El Dorado Educational Center in Placerville. She comes to FLC from Sierra College in Rocklin, where she served as the assistant superintendent/vice president of instruction for five years.
The route to Rosenthal’s new position as president of Folsom Lake College wasn’t planned.
“I never honestly thought I would be in this position and I’m thrilled beyond words to be here,” said Rosenthal. She began her career life with a bachelor’s of science degree in mechanical engineering from Oklahoma State University. “I was good in math and didn’t have much money, so I became an engineer.”
After years of working with natural gas processing and wearing a hard hat, life interfered and Rosenthal rethought her career. “I went back to school and got a degree to teach at the college level and it was the best decision I ever made. It’s been very fulfilling to me. What community colleges do is just incredible.”
She earned a doctorate in educational leadership and a master of science in applied mathematics from University of California, Davis, as well as a master of arts in education from California State University, Sacramento. She began her career in education as a math professor at American River College in Sacramento in 1994. In 2000 she was promoted to the dean of the mathematics department and in 2004 Rosenthal was promoted to dean of planning, research and development. Rosenthal moved to Sierra College in 2007.
Rosenthal said she sees her job as being the hub between the expertise and resources of the internal college community and the needs of the external community.
“That’s our job, as a community college, to serve the community and understand what the community work force needs and what we at the college can provide in terms of expertise and resource development to build programs to meet those needs,” she explained. “To achieve at our best, we have to be involved with the community and work closely with it.”
In September Rosenthal will begin meeting with Rotary Clubs and chambers of commerce as well as other community organizations.
Rosenthal is married with two daughters and one son-in-law and is the co-owner of Tess’ Kitchen in Grass Valley with her husband. She said she has a serious longtime interest in photography and enjoys travel. She also trains service dogs for the disabled through Canine Companions.
The new job is almost like coming home. “I started in the Los Rios system at American River so it’s been good to come back and see people on the faculty I used to work with,” said Rosenthal. “This job will be the best thing I’ve ever done. I’m really looking forward to all the staff being back and getting started.”