Zerrie Campbell used the educational foundation that she achieved at Northern, including an M.S. in Education, to become a distinguished teacher and a successful academic administrator whose career culminated in her appointment as the first African-American woman president of Malcolm X College when she was only 42 years old. Founded as Crane Junior College in 1917, and renamed Malcolm X College in 1969, this premier campus of the Chicago City College system attained national recognition under President Campbell’s leadership. She retired in 2008, having served the longest term (16 years) as president in the College’s history. She is now serving as Interim President at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park in St. Louis, Missouri.
What characterized Campbell’s career as an educational administrator was her interest in workforce preparation, her community partnership building, and her unique talent for team building among all members of her university community.
During her tenure as president, Malcolm X College received numerous state and national awards for teaching and learning, including the 1997 Award for Excellence in Workforce Preparation from the Illinois Community College Board. The College also received $12 million in federal grants to increase students’ access to higher education.
Believing in “empowerment through education,” Campbell has been honored by the CHANCE program at Northern for her leadership in college education. National awards include President of the Year, from the American Association for Women in Community Colleges, and Distinguished Imprint Award, from the National Association of University Women.