Faces of ACC: Cheryl Calhoun


Image via Ashley Marcon

Cheryl Calhoun posing in the hall way of ACC main campus building.

Megan Langley, Reporter

Cheryl Calhoun is a jack of many trades, but most recently, she has received another job title – the new vice president and provost of Arapahoe Community College (ACC). 

Calhoun began this position on Feb. 1, 2022, so she is very new to ACC, but so far, she has been enjoying her experience here. Prior to this job, she worked as the Dean of Access and Inclusion at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida.  

She stated that Colorado’s weather is colder than the weather anywhere she had ever lived before, and she had never left her home state of Florida up until she accepted this job. Aside from having to adjust to the snowy temperatures, however, she enjoys living in Colorado and already feels welcomed by the people she has encountered. 

One of the reasons why she chose to work at ACC in particular was because she wanted to work with an institution that she believed was dedicated to doing more about closing the equity gaps. ACC proved this when looking for the provost position, and because the school is located in Colorado, Calhoun is able to be closer to her children, both of whom live on the west coast. 

Calhoun has some expertise in cybersecurity, and her work in that field was what brought her to the world of academia in the first place.  While obtaining three degrees from the University of Florida, she also added minors and secondary major in computer science or information science.  

Her life changed when she stumbled upon an advertisement in her local newspaper promoting a job for a faculty position at Santa Fe College. Calhoun took the leap, secured the job, and spent the next 27 years working there.  

While at Santa Fe, she helped build a computer networking program (which she had also previously done for the American Red Cross) and served as a professor teaching programming and analysis. She loves cybersecurity because of the combination of social sciences and technology.  

“I really enjoyed that crossover. It really appealed to my human nature of technology as a tool, but the social side of that, how we as a society want to live together in this space successfully,” Calhoun said. 

As the new vice president and provost of ACC, Calhoun explains that her job is to “provide academic leadership for the college” and “ensure that educational programs are doing the absolute best to help as many as possible.” Ultimately, the goal is for all the students to succeed, and the work done through this job is meant to help students from all backgrounds on their unique paths to success. 

Diversity and equity are two things that are very important to Calhoun, and she incorporates that in her work.  

“What I think community college are positioned for is to help students understand about the inequities that we have in our society, where we have places that some individuals are succeeding and others are not succeeding, and how we look at that from a systemic standpoint and understand the nature of how our society has evolved,” Calhoun says, “We can look at the most obvious piece when we look at race – inequities that occur in our society based on race, hundreds of years of inequitable systems that were built in our society.” 

Through the work Calhoun is doing at this new position, she hopes to work towards closing those gaps.   

“I feel like community colleges are well-poised in not only helping individuals close those equity gaps, but also helping us as a society and as a community understand our responsibility to do that and what the best practices and ways are to accomplish that.”  

As a former co-owner of feminist bookstore Wild Iris Book, Calhoun had access to a lot of books, and still to this day is an avid reader. When asked for book recommendations, she explained that she doesn’t think she has any specific favorite book or author overall, but rather has favorites over time. She explains she has previously read from influential feminist authors such as Bell Hooks, Toni Morrison, and Angela Davis. 

“I really enjoy that process of learning more and having some insight to their thought processes and their approaches to life, and I think it really enriches my life to do that,” Calhoun explains. 

Through this new job, Dr. Calhoun is playing a big part in enriching the lives and careers of all the students here at ACC.