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AACC, ACCT focus on preparing future presidents

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​The nation’s two main associations representing community college presidents and trustees are partnering to address key issues pertaining to leadership and governance, especially preparing future college presidents.

The collaboration between the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) will address three trends that are challenging community college leadership at a time when public two-year colleges are being called on to boost completion and student success, but with fewer resources. Those trends are: the graying of current and future community college CEOs; a shrinking pool of potential presidential candidates; and the frequent reconfiguring and high turnover on colleges’ governing boards. 

As a first step, AACC will offer a new leadership training program for college CEOs that will launch this fall. “Surviving the First 120 Days in the Presidency” will give new college presidents the skills to successfully transform the culture of their institutions. The program will cover critical topics, such as:

  • understanding the work new CEOs must do prior to their first day on the job
  • establishing productive relationships with the board of trustees, faculty and collective bargaining groups
  • setting and communicating goals with the board of trustees
  • effectively engaging the business community

“We have a vested interest in growing the leadership pipeline for our institutions—from foundational skills, through middle management, to senior-level administration—and to equip senior leaders to be successful after getting the job,” said AACC President and CEO Walter Bumphus.

Growing their own

AACC will also support “grow-your-own” leadership programs offered by its member colleges. The association will develop curriculum and offer a toolkit to help community colleges build new leadership programs and enhance existing programs on their campuses and through statewide efforts.

In addition, later this year AACC will launch a training program for prospective college leaders who have taken nontraditional routes but are interested in leadership.

On the trustees’ side, ACCT plans to expand its online trustee education service as well as develop a series of educational webinars and teleconferences that will focus on board-CEO relationships. 

“We take very seriously our obligations to identify, recruit, train, and retain the highest caliber leaders to meet the demands of the future,” said ACCT President and CEO J. Noah Brown.

Both organizations have already made significant progress toward establishing the foundation for some of these initiatives, and over the next six weeks they will explore other potential initiatives related to community college leadership.