Spring is a busy time of the year at community colleges, cul- minating in commencement ceremonies in May. It also seems
to be the time of year for back-to-back
conferences, workshops and legislative
events. While your priorities will always
lie within your institutions and in your
home states/regions, there are many
reasons that participation in events and
organizations at the national level is vital
to the success of your institution, your
career and your students.
National conferences and workshops
are excellent places to learn about best
practices, tried-and-true procedures that
provide the best return on investment
and the highest impact. Since there are
many challenges that all community colleges share, these best practices and the
information gleaned about their implementation make a trip to a conference
or even participation in a round table or
online workshop very valuable.
National conferences also are an
excellent place to create new connections
and renew old ones. This is especially
true when you are seeking a mentor for
your current position or in a particular
area. Tapping into the vast experience of
our many outstanding community college
leaders will aid your professional growth
and keep you on your leadership track.
Additionally, these conferences are
clearinghouses of innovation. Not only
can you learn about what’s new at other
colleges, you can also share the innovations that have proven successful on
your campus. When presenting at conferences, sharing your innovative ideas,
you are able to get feedback that might
prove important to the continued and
expanded success of the project.
Lastly, national involvement allows
you to keep your finger on the pulse of pol-
icies and movements that may affect your
colleges, states and regions. It ensures
your particular concerns are addressed
in policy. As a community college leader,
it is critical for you to carry on dialogue
with legislators and educate policymakers
about what is going on in higher educa-
tion, and the funding necessary for your
institution’s continued success and for the
ability to respond to changing trends in
employment needs. You must be vigilant
in the role you play with policymakers or
else others who may not be the best advo-
cates for your interests will.
If involvement on a national level
is not something you have invested
in before now, AACC’s 98th Annual
Convention, happening April 28–May 1
in Dallas, Texas, offers the perfect opportunity for you. The meeting hosts more
than 2,000 community college presidents
and senior administrators and includes
international educators and business/
industry and government representatives. The conference offers professional
development, the exchange of ideas
on innovation and best practices, and
networking opportunities with both
education leaders and policymakers.
I hope to see you in April!
Mary S. Graham is president of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community
College and chair of the AACC Board of Directors.
the national level
Mary S. Graham
PRESIDENT & CEO
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
DIREC TOR OF PUBLICATIONS
RR Donnelley–Liberty, Mo.
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Volume 88, Issue 5.
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“National involvement allows you to keep your
finger on the pulse of policies and movements that
may affect your colleges, states and regions.”