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Two educators who have helped to train the next generation of community college leaders and improved access to higher education for thousands of students have been selected to receive the 2009 National Leadership Award from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). For more than 30 years, Walter Bumphus and J. William “Bill” Wenrich have provided outstanding leadership for community colleges throughout the country.
The leadership award is given based on outstanding leadership at the national level over an extended period of time and a long-standing commitment to community colleges. Bumphus and Wenrich will be recognized at the opening session of the AACC annual convention in Phoenix, Ariz., in April.
“It is a personal and a professional honor to be able to recognize these two exceptional leaders,” said AACC President George Boggs. “Their commitment to mentoring new leadership during decades of major growth for our colleges and to championing access and success for students in unparalleled.”
Bumphus began his career in higher education administration in 1972 as director of minority affairs and dormitory director at Murray State University (Kentucky). In 1974, he became dean of students at East Arkansas Community College.
Bumphus later served as vice president and dean of students at Howard Community College (Maryland) for 14 years. In 1991, he became the fourth president of Brookhaven College, one of seven colleges of the Dallas County Community College District (Texas). There, he oversaw the construction of a 150,000-square-foot student services center.
Bumphus was elected to the AACC board of directors in 1993 and became its chair in1996. He also worked in the private sector of education as the president of the Higher Education Division of Voyager Expanded Learning, providing curriculum and training materials for 1,000 school districts in 44 states.
In 2000, Bumphus was named chancellor of Baton Rouge Community College, which became one of the fastest-growing colleges in the country under his leadership. Subsequently, he served as president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. Bumphus led the system in 2005 to deal with the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, during which several colleges within the system had to suspend operations.
Currently, Bumphus continues to serve community colleges as a professor in the Community College Leadership Program and as chair of the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Texas at Austin. Additionally, he works as an educational consultant.
Wenrich began his career in education in 1968 at the College of San Mateo (California) as assistant to the college president shortly after a riot broke out on the campus. He helped to design and implement a plan to get the college back on track. Six years later, he returned to the San Mateo Community College District as president of Canada College.
Wenrich has nearly 40 years of higher education leadership experience, serving as president of Ferris State University (Michigan) and Santa Ana College (California). He served as chancellor of the Rancho Santiago Community College District (1979-1984) and the San Diego Community College District (1988-1990).
In 1990, Wenrich became chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD), Texas’ largest undergraduate institution, and the college experienced rapid growth under his leadership. He initiated the innovative Rising Star program, which guarantees a full scholarship to all Dallas County high school students who graduate with a “B” average and demonstrate economic need. More than 9,000 mostly minority students have received the scholarships, drawing on a $24 million endowment that Wenrich helped to raise. He also initiated the Undocumented Student Initiative, serving more than 6,000 undocumented students. Other colleges in the state have adopted the initiative.
Wenrich retired as chancellor emeritus of the DCCCD in 2003, but he continues to help community colleges. He is currently involved with Achieving the Dream, a national initiative to help more community college students succeed, with a focus on underrepresented populations. Wenrich also serves on the national advisory board for AACC’s 50 Plus Initiative, a three-year effort to engage people age 50 and older in learning, training and voluntary service. In addition, he works for the American Council on Education (ACE) as a consultant to recruit future community college leaders as fellows in a leadership program sponsored by ACE.
Wenrich also helped to launch and currently serves on the executive committee of the Bill J. Priest Center of the University of North Texas, which is devoted to strengthening regional community college leadership study at the graduate level
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