SMC — Acclimating to a new job nearly 350 miles south from the old is proving to be a less trying task than the trip itself for Jeanine Hawk.

There’s a lot of parallels that Santa Monica College’s new vice president of business and administration can draw between her current and former workplace at De Anza College in Cupertino where she spent five years as the school’s vice president for educational resources and college operations, essentially taking on the same responsibilities today as she did in the past.

“I think they’re one (SMC) and two (De Anza) in the state and both have a high number of international students, the institutions both have very involved students and a lot of student life,” Hawk said about the similarities between the schools. “Both have dedicated faculty, staff and that is what it takes to be a great institution.”

“I think both are top rate.”

Hawk was hired recently to take over the college’s business and fiscal matters, managing an approximately $180 million budget that is currently facing a set of challenges from state funding cuts. She is the first permanent person to take on the job since former vice president Tom Donner left in 2006, leaving the position filled in the interim by SMC’s Executive Vice President Randal Lawson.

“This is a key role in the management team to deal with the economic crisis facing the state and institution,” SMC President and Superintendent Dr. Chui Tsang said. “We’re very happy to have someone like Jeanine come and join us and be part of this team and hit the ground running.”

During her time at De Anza College, Hawk oversaw several capital construction projects that were funded by two voter-approved bond measures, including one in 2006 that brought in $490 million.

The college recently unveiled the new Visual and Performing Arts Center, a building that came in both on time and under budget.

“She oversaw all the relations with the architects, the building management, the technology,” said De Anza College President Brian Murphy. “She and one of the colleagues were the ones who were almost in weekly meetings with everyone to make sure it all happened.”

The experience could come in handy at Santa Monica College where a series of construction projects, funded by a $295 million bond measure that was approved by voters last year, are expected to break ground over the next several years.

SMC officials are currently working on the development plans for the bond.

But the biggest challenge occupying Hawk’s time over the next few months might very well be the budget, an issue aggravated by rising enrollment at the college.

“A lot of my time right now is understanding how the state budget crisis will be affecting Santa Monica College’s funding and what the college will have to do differently in response to budget conditions at this point in time.”

Hawk comes to the college with more than 23 years of experience in financial management.

After graduating from the University of California, Irvine, Hawk worked 15 years in Orange County for various electronics businesses, focusing mostly on the business side of operations, serving at times as supervisor, financial analyst and controller.

Seeking a change in environment, Hawk later moved to Southern Oregon where she opened a bead and ethnic arts store, trying to explore her creative side.

Bored by the business, she decided to return to school and enrolled in Southern Oregon University, eventually earning a masters in business administration.

It was in Oregon where Hawk began her career in postsecondary education, joining the administration at Rogue Community College, working in various positions from associate dean of business services to student services director over a seven-year period.

About five years ago, Hawk moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area to work at De Anza College.

Going for the business and administration job in Santa Monica was a natural next step.

“There’s a few elite community colleges in the state and Santa Monica is one of them,” she said. “Just in terms of my own professional growth, I thought SMC would be an appropriate next step.”

melodyh@smdp.com