There are many programs across the nation designed to give community college staff and faculty the leadership skills that could help them reach the presidency. But what happens when those people actually land the job of leading an institution? Learning how to be president can be very different from actually being president.
“I had a pretty good idea of the work of a president,” Mott Community College President Beverly Walker-Griffea said in a recent Community College Journal article. “But moving into the president’s role, probably the biggest challenge was recognizing the all-encompassing nature of all things reporting to you.”
Walker-Griffea began her presidency at the Michigan college in 2014.
Building a network of peers is helpful — particularly when an unusual situation arises. But continued professional development also is necessary. Several organizations — including the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) — offer learning opportunities for CEOs.
For newly minted CEOs, AACC offers the New CEO Academy at its annual convention. The seminar allows presidents to meet with peers in an environment that is “supportive and serious, open and honest, productive and informative,” according to the institute description. Seasoned CEOs are on hand to provide first-hand experiences and insights on topics including mastering advocacy, problem solving, fostering the college mission, and understanding college finances. And those CEOs can answer the questions presidents may otherwise be afraid to ask.
“Regardless of how long you have been in leadership, being a community college president is a unique and challenging profession,” said AACC President Walter Bumphus. “Learning from community college veterans and connecting with other new presidents is beneficial professionally and personally. It is in the sharing of experiences and challenges that you can build a solid network. That learning and sharing is always beneficial regardless of where you are in your career path.”
The next New CEO Academy will take place April 21–22 in New Orleans.
What do you wish you’d known before you became president? Talk about it on LinkedIn.