Catalysts for success

Merrill Irving, Jr., president of Hennepin Technical College (Minnesota), visits Clark State Community College to kick off the Ohio college's new leadership series. (Photos: Jo Alice Blondin/Clark State)

Ohio’s Clark State Community College has launched a leadership series that brings innovative leaders from other colleges to the campus. The Clark State Catalysts series features three current college presidents sharing their expertise with the wider college community.

“The purpose is to highlight different leadership styles and show the diversity and excellence of leadership at community colleges across the country,” Clark State President Jo Alice Blondin said in a press release.

Editor’s note: This article comes from AACC’s 21st-Century Center.

The presidents will meet with internal audiences, such as the board of trustees, faculty, staff, students and participants in Clark State’s SOAR (Serving Our Own Through Advancement and Retention), an internal leadership academy.

The theme of this year’s event is “Leadership for Student Success.”

Merrill Irving, Jr., president of Hennepin Technical College (Minnesota), was the first speaker in the series to visit Clark State this week. He discussed equity in student outcomes and diversity and inclusivity for the board of trustees and employees.

Merrill Irving, Jr., illustrates the differences between equality and equity.

President Dan Phelan, president of Jackson College in Michigan, will be on campus in January to discuss leading change and innovation for student success. Phelan’s book, Unrelenting Change, was the Clark State Book Club selection last year. In April, Beverly Walker-Griffea, president of Mott Community College in Michigan, will visit for the college’s town hall meeting to discuss critical leadership competencies in crisis situations.

Highlighting student success

Continuing with its focus on student success, Clark State will host its second Student Success Conference in December. The event is an opportunity for faculty and staff to highlight what they have done, what they are doing and future plans to promote student success at the college.

“This is our second year holding the conference, and this year we have a really diverse and exciting schedule of presentations from staff, faculty and student presenters from across the college,” said assistant professor Danielle Roach.

Helping employees soar

Clark State has heavily invested time and resources in leadership development in recent years. The college’s SOAR program, administered by Blondin, aims to help remove silos between departments and help faculty and staff connect with their work – or the work of colleagues in other areas – in a meaningful way.

The program launched in the 2017-2018 academic year. SOAR participants take a strengths-finder assessment, have textbooks to read and are given writing prompts. They attend board meetings and have monthly lunch meetings with vice presidents so they can better understand what each area is responsible for at the college. They also have one-on-one monthly meetings with Blondin.