... LEADER TO LEADER
Community College CEOs on the Challenges
Of Next-Generation Leadership
Contra Costa Community College District, Calif.
Chancellor since 2005
Q: “What’s the most important step our
institutions can take to prepare the next
generation of community college leaders?”
A: One major step an institution can
take is to build professional development
programs and leadership opportunities
within the college/district. A board of trustees and a CEO
who advocate for and support professional development are
essential to preparing new leaders. They should ensure the
following: development of leadership programs for employees; formation of partnerships with bachelor’s, master’s, and
doctoral degree-granting institutions to allow employees to
advance academically; establishment of mentoring programs
that match employees who can benefit from each other’s work
experiences; and implementation of job shadowing programs
to give employees an opportunity to experience administrative jobs to which they aspire. Such programs do not require
huge amounts of dollars but a commitment of time and effort.
Perhaps, the most important step an institution can take is
to help the next generation understand that there is value
in taking on the leadership mantle. The rewards are many,
despite the challenges that come with the role, especially in
the challenging days that lie ahead. Becoming a leader requires
sacrifice, courage, and a commitment beyond any other position found in community colleges. We have an obligation to
identify our replacements and prepare them to assume leadership responsibilities in the same way as others have assisted us.
Santa Fe College, Gainesville, Fla.
President since 2002
A: Education leaders who become our
nation’s newest community college
presidents will have a rich experience.
This new generation of community college
professionals will lead at an exciting point in our history,
similar to the “golden era” of the community college when
these great institutions spread across America.
There is no question that today’s economy is different.
Q: “What is the biggest challenge two-
year college presidents can expect to face?”
We face the challenge of operating with diminishing financial
resources. The medical and social services needs of a burgeon-
ing baby boomer retiree population will draw down public
funds, leaving less money for education. To remain relevant,
public colleges must manage their finances efficiently while
meeting the demands of a changing world.
Carl Sandburg College, Galesburg, Ill.
President since 2010
Q: “How must community college leaders
evolve to meet the demands of the 21st-
century community college?”
A: Higher education is, arguably, experi-
encing the most significant paradigm shift
of its long and tradition-filled history.
The 21st-century community college is
faced with greater challenges than ever before—funding cuts,
underprepared students and those in poverty, proprietary
institutions, and the emergence of massive open online
courses, to name a few. How must community college leaders
evolve to meet these challenges?