Leadership is a topic that I think about every day.
Good leadership is vital to the success of our stu-
dents and is a popular topic in conversations with
college presidents. Leadership is not just about
college administration—it is a topic as diverse as
our community college students.
Previously, I have focused this column on the
need for current CEOs to ensure they are empower-
ing the next generation of leaders. That generation,
in my opinion, is one of the most connected and
resource-rich that we may ever have.
If you consider the options for leadership devel-
opment today, you may be overwhelmed. From
rigorous doctoral programs to informal networking
and everything in-between, today’s community col-
lege leader is better connected than I ever was.
My first foray into leadership happened because
I was in the right place at the right time. I did not
have formal training until well in to my career
in education. I’m sure many of you were a little
nervous when tapped to step up and fill the need
for a leader.
While I had excellent mentors and opportunities, I wish I was able to take advantage of the vast
resources available today. Technology has made
it easier than ever to stay connected. Utilizing the
power of technology, it is easy to maintain connections made with colleagues, communicate with each
other, and share best practices to a broader audience. To the next generation of leaders, technology
has always allowed them to connect, multitask and
to give (and receive) instant feedback. Today’s leader
uses technology to build relationships and social
media to communicate a vision.
The next generation of leaders also has the
advantage of more formal leadership and professional development programs. I was honored to
work with aspiring leaders recently at the American
Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) Future
Leaders Institute and Future Presidents Institute.
These two programs bring together seasoned
veterans, experts in the field and our AACC staff to
cover topics like advocacy, fundraising, and media
relations. Participants also have access to community college leaders who have been successful
presidents. Both retired legends and sitting presidents spent time discussing current issues as well
as more personal topics including board relations,
CEO contracts, and presidential interviews. Most
importantly, the participants formed bonds within
their respective cohorts that I know will serve them
well as they navigate their own careers.
I believe strongly in the power of mentoring and
professional development. I know it works. But, I
am also learning from these future presidents that
there are new and exciting ways to gather knowledge, connect with others and build a network of
relationships. I am confident that the next era for
community colleges is in good hands.
Walter G. Bumphus is president and CEO of the American Association of
Connecting to leadership
By Walter G. Bumphus
“To the next generation of leaders, technology has always
allowed them to connect, multitask and to give (and receive)