President Dr. Lori Sundberg
First female leader in college history to step down in fall of 2023
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (Nov. 7, 2022)–Kirkwood Community College President Dr. Lori Sundberg has announced her intent to retire as leader of the institution in the fall of 2023. The announcement was made this morning in a message to faculty and staff.
The fifth president in Kirkwood’s history, as well as the first female to lead the college, Sundberg has served in the role since the fall of 2018. Under her direction, the institution has implemented a number of key academic initiatives including the Cedar Rapids College Career Connection as well as Guided Pathways, a nationally recognized framework designed to streamline a student’s path from enrollment to completion. During her tenure, the college has opened up multiple new facilities such as a new Automotive Technology building, a new Agricultural Sciences building, and a state-of-the-art student center that has dramatically changed the student experience at Kirkwood.
Sundberg’s strong leadership style and major focus on strategic planning helped set the tone for the institution to navigate through unprecedented times with the global pandemic and the 2020 derecho. Her substantial impact on higher education and the college’s seven-county service area have garnered her numerous awards including a 2022 Ovation Award from the Iowa Women’s Foundation. She was also named a 2022 Gazette HER Woman of Achievement honoree as well as a 2022 Woman of Influence by the Corridor Business Journal.
After having accomplished so many significant milestones in her career and as president of Kirkwood, Sundberg decided it was time to make way for the next head of the storied institution.
“It seems hard to believe that it has been five years since I started here,” said Sundberg. “It’s really with mixed and bittersweet emotions that I submitted my letter of intent. It’s hard to know the right time to retire. At the same time, it feels like we’ve achieved our goals that we set out to accomplish since I started. I didn’t think it would be possible that I would ever care about an institution as much as I care for this college, but it’s going to be incredibly difficult to leave. I will be a Kirkwood supporter forever.”
According to Kirkwood Board of Trustees Chair Jim Mollenhauer, Sundberg’s retirement will mean a big loss for Kirkwood.
“Dr. Sundberg has been an incredible leader for our college through some very difficult times,” said Mollenhauer. “The way she has handled her duties in the face of impossible odds with the pandemic and derecho has been exemplary. Despite the challenges, she still has accomplished more than many would have in normal times. While the board and I are sad to see her go, we are happy for her to be able to enjoy a lengthy, well-deserved retirement and we wish her the best.”
Sundberg plans to continue in her role as president through Kirkwood’s accreditation visit with the Higher Learning Commission next October. The nationwide search to find her successor is set to begin in the coming months.