Dr. Richard Daniel
SMCC College President
Strengths: Responsibility | Discipline | Self-Assurance | Arranger | Analytical
Richard Daniel, Ph.D., was appointed president of South Mountain Community College (SMCC) in November of 2022. In this role, he is responsible for the overall leadership and direction of one of the most diverse colleges in the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD).
Established in Phoenix, AZ in 1978, SMCC serves more than 5,000 students every year, and is a recognized Hispanic- and Minority-serving institution: more than 80 percent of SMCC’s student population in the 2020-21 academic year identified as minority, with 55 percent identifying as Hispanic. Nearly two thirds of SMCC’s student population identified as first-generation college going, meaning they were the first in their family to attend college.
SMCC also employs 208 full-time and 258 part-time employees.
Immediately prior to being appointed as president at SMCC, Dr. Daniel served as the executive vice president and chief operating officer of Education Forward Arizona, where his responsibilities included: identifying partnership and fundraising opportunities for organizational growth and impact; developing and executing strategic operational planning and program work planning; and ensuring that programmatic and operational/administrative budgets aligned with organizational priorities. Dr. Daniel also led the fundraising efforts for Education Forward Arizona. In 2021, he helped raise $8.5M from foundations, corporations, federal and state grants, and tribal communities, and, in 2022, his fundraising efforts raised approximately $16M in multi-year funding.
Before Education Forward Arizona, Dr. Daniel served as executive vice president and chief operating officer at College Success Arizona, where he worked to bring the transformative opportunities of higher education to students from underserved and underrepresented communities in Arizona.
During his thirty-year career, Dr. Daniel has served in senior leadership positions at public research universities and community colleges, including serving as vice president for Institutional Advancement at Saint Michael’s College. In that role, he oversaw a comprehensive advancement operation responsible for raising $3.4 million annually. During his tenure, he successfully reorganized the Office of Institutional Advancement by aligning efforts toward a model of fundraising that was focused and strategic.
Dr. Daniel worked for 15 years at Arizona State University in a number of administrative positions in the areas of Institutional Advancement, Student Affairs and Academic Affairs. He was Associate Vice President for University Advancement and Special Projects and Executive Director for Alumni Relations at The University of Texas at El Paso. He served as Director of Recruitment and Advisement at South Mountain Community College, where he was member of the Strategic Enrollment Management Committee working with faculty, staff to develop academic programs, pathways and services to ensure students made progress toward completion.
Throughout his career, Dr. Daniel has tirelessly advocated for expanding access to educational opportunities that empower individuals, families, and communities. Servant-leadership has been the guiding principle of Dr. Daniel’s efforts, during which he has prioritized developing and supporting teams that maximize individual and organizational strengths for the benefit of those they serve.
Dr. Daniel also believes in contributing not only through writing and developing research, but also applying it to drive action. Most recently, he was the lead author of the policy brief Prioritizing Access and Opportunity: How Community Colleges Contribute to Increased Attainment and Economic Growth in Arizona. This brief preceded the pandemic and as a result supported the need to create the Arizona Postsecondary Student Resiliency Fund, which provided and continues to provide funds for students facing financial barriers and resource gaps as a result of the pandemic. The Fund awarded $500,000 to 1,156 students statewide over the course of 16 weeks; 258 of those students attended Maricopa County Community Colleges. His work to develop and apply other research projects led to the creation of AdviseAZ AmeriCorps, which places near-peer advisers in high schools to work alongside counselors to help students navigate the complex process of pursuing a postsecondary education.
Dr. Daniel is frequently asked to speak to media and to present at conferences on topics ranging from strategic planning and board development to college and workforce readiness. Born in the mining community of Superior, AZ, Dr. Daniel experienced firsthand the transformative power of higher education, earning his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, as well as his master’s degree in Higher Education Administration, and his bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from Arizona State University.
Dr. Daniel and his wife, Rebecca reside in Chandler and are actively involved in the community and enjoy spending time outdoors.