The Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence aims to develop a cadre of exceptional leaders who can transform community colleges to achieve higher levels of student success, while maintaining broad access. Drawing on the exemplary work of excellent community colleges, the Aspen Institute is engaging a select group of 40 fellows in an intensive, one-year, applied leadership executive program, delivered in collaboration with Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative.
In order to succeed in this changing environment, the next generation of community college presidents must lead their institutions to deliver more credentials of higher quality at an affordable cost to an increasingly diverse population.
New Vision for Leadership
Community colleges enroll almost half of all undergraduates —including a disproportionate number of low-income, minority, and first-generation college students. They provide essential pathways to degrees, certificates and well-paying jobs for millions of Americans. But, too often this access does not lead to desired outcomes. Less than 40% of community college students complete a credential. For low-income and minority students, completion rates are significantly lower. Substantially improving outcomes is not easy, especially in an era of declining state funding, increasing accountability for student success, and evolving student demographics.
The Aspen Experience
The year-long fellowship includes three on-campus residential seminars (approximately 14 days of instruction) filled with thought-provoking learning and networking, plus structured mentoring for applied learning and strategic planning at home institutions. Seminars are led by Aspen Institute and Stanford University faculty, as well as some of the nation’s top community college professionals and higher education experts, incorporating case studies, promising practices, and emerging research.
During the program, fellows build a presidential strategy portfolio that documents their unique approach and capacity to lead community colleges to reach high and improving levels of student success. Fellows receive constructive feedback from cohort peers and mentors on their portfolios, which ultimately they may use in presentations to boards, chancellors, and presidential hiring committees.
The Aspen Presidential Fellowship centers on three broad themes: