Tammy Robinson, president of MCC now on a leave of absence, celebrates the graduate class of 2023 at Desert Financial Arena, on May 13, 2023. (Photo by Rey Covarrubias Jr.)

Mesa Community College president announces sudden leave of absence, Phoenix College president to take on interim role

Mesa Community College President Tammy Robinson took a leave of absence on Friday after district executives announced a shakeup among two of the Valley’s biggest community colleges, only two weeks into the start of the semester.

In an email announcement to employees, Maricopa County Community College District chancellor Steven Gonzalez said Robinson’s leave was effective immediately, without adding how long the leave would last or the reason for the abrupt notice.

Gonzalez said he asked Phoenix College President Kimberly Britt to become the interim president at MCC, only 3 months from when Robinson would have marked two years in the role.

“Dr. Britt has graciously agreed to step in and fill this critical leadership position. I have no doubt that Dr. Britt will work to ensure MCC’s strategic initiatives and service to students and the community at large continue without interruption,” read Gonzalez’s email announcement.

Britt will officially take over as MCC’s interim president on Jan. 29, splitting the president role between MCC and PC, according to the announcement.

“In the coming days college stakeholders and district leaders will convene to develop a plan that supports MCC and PC’s continued success as we navigate Dr. Robinson’s leave,” added Gonzalez.

The email announcement came after an apparent accidental release amongst certain employees, according to Gonzalez. 

“You may have recently received a message from me regarding the leadership transition at Mesa. This was not intended for all employees and was intended only for the Board members. I apologize that this information was inadvertently shared in this manner,” wrote Gonzalez.

Interim president Britt told The Mesa Legend on a phone call Friday evening that she was not aware of the reason for Robinson’s departure or for how long it would last.

Britt shared an open letter to MCC employees and opened with “in times of great uncertainty, the priority first is to restore a sense of calm and resume with great vigor the commitment to this college’s purpose, values and mission.”

Britt reassured college employees in the email that she is a confident and capable candidate ready to take on the new role, with Britt describing herself as a “bottom up leader.”

Britt said she would be there for Monday meetings among MCC staff and leadership, operating on an open door policy.

“Change is hard,” said Britt. “We will navigate this and ensure Mesa is strong, forward moving, and I will be your advocate in all district meetings,” added Britt.

“I was asked to step in for a temporary period of time and help Mesa, and that’s what I’m doing,” said Britt, who told The Mesa Legend the interim role would only be at Mesa for “a short time.”

“I’m a very caring and empathetic leader, and I’ve been very successful at Phoenix College for that reason. I’m someone who grew up in foster care, is a first generation student ,and I had to make it on my own, so I really represent the students we have in terms of coming from a disadvantaged background,” said Britt.

Britt cited that in 2023, PC was awarded the Seal of Excelencia for supporting Hispanic students.

“As long as I’m at Mesa, I will give you 100% of what I have,” said Britt, who was ready to handle two executive community college roles at the same time.

“I’m going to be a busy lady cause I am going to be bouncing back and forth, but I am surrounded by incredible leaders at Phoenix College, and I just left Mesa, I was there for a couple hours meeting with the leadership team and we plan not to skip a beat,” said Britt.

MCC’s Office of Institutional Advancement did not have enough information about Robinson’s leave to produce a statement on behalf of the college.

The office of chancellor Gonzalez did not immediately respond to The Mesa Legend’s request for more information.

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