The road to convention: A word from the White House

Debra DerrDebra Derr

The theme for the 2017 American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Convention April 22-25 in New Orleans is “Community Colleges: America’s North Star,” as community colleges remain a fixed point by which people can set their compasses to navigate change successfully. Below, AACC board member and Mt. Hood Community College President Debra Derr recalls when a sitting president visited the annual convention.

In 2004, President George W. Bush spoke at the annual AACC convention in Minneapolis. Debra Derr was in the audience, and the experience sticks with her.

“I remember listening to President Bush and thinking how amazing it was to be in the audience hearing an American president, in person, for the first time,” said Derr, president of Mt. Hood Community College in Oregon. “All politics aside, it was an amazing opportunity, the type of opportunity AACC provides to its members.”

Those types of speakers often serve to inspire on a national level (former Vice President Joe Biden spoke at the AACC convention in 2014 in Washington, D.C.), but the annual convention has plenty to energize leaders with ideas from the local level, too. Derr, who has attended AACC conventions since the mid-1990s, especially recommends that new college presidents take advantage to chat with colleagues from around the country.

“There is no greater opportunity to network, ask questions and seek out support than the AACC convention,” she said.

Friday deadline: January 27 is the last day for the early-bird registration discount for the 2017 AACC Convention in New Orleans April 22-25.

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