On Tuesday, May 2, Lake-Sumter State College held a historic inauguration ceremony for Dr. Heather Bigard, the College’s 7th president and the first female to hold the role. 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.
Dr. Bigard brings over 25 years of experience in higher education leadership to this role, focusing on maximizing opportunities for learners across Lake and Sumter Counties. As a first-generation college student, Dr. Bigard understands students’ challenges when pursuing higher education and is committed to improving student success outcomes to transform lives and futures.
“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 Dr. Bigard’s leadership and commitment to the mission of Lake-Sumter State College. The ceremony included inspiring performances by LSSC students, welcome remarks from trustees, faculty, staff, alumni, and community leaders, and a keynote address from President Bigard.
We were honored with speeches from 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), and the Oath of Office administered by the Honorable Judge Jason Nimeth, also an alumnus.
“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.
During her keynote address, Dr. 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.
“We are committed to creating a learning environment that is inclusive, innovative, and responsive to the needs of our community,” said Dr. Bigard. “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 inauguration ceremony was truly a historic moment for Lake-Sumter State College and an exciting beginning to the newest era of the College.
View more photos of the Presidential Inauguration of Dr. Heather Bigard here.