With updated and expanded Competencies for Community College Leaders,
leaders get a clear roadmap to the future of college leadership
By Heather Boerner
In the 1990s, Lee Ann Nutt was chat- ting with a career counselor when she set down a higher education
publication in front of her. It was folded
to the classified section.
“Read that,” the counselor said, point-
ing to a job. “That ad just described you.”
The ad was for a college president.
Nutt, who had landed at community col-
lege work by chance, laughed in disbelief.
“Who am I? Just some girl from
Borger, Texas,” she thought. “What do
I have to offer?”
It was a belief born out of an
upbringing being shuttled between
parents, step-parents and a grandfather,
and living independently as a teenager.
Career counseling and guidance was
new to her.
But it turned out she did have a lot
to offer. Years later, when she read the
American Association of Community
Colleges’ Competencies for Community
College Leaders, everything clicked into
place. Suddenly she could see what that
counselor had been saying all those
years ago. Here were her strengths: communication, collaboration, relationship
building inside and outside the college.
The skills that weren’t yet strengths
could become strengths. And she now
had a new roadmap to build on them.
Today, Nutt is president of Lone Star
College’s Tomball campus. On her desk
sits a crystal swan, a gift from her hus-
band reminding Nutt of the story of the
ugly duckling. This is how she thinks of
into a swan, someone who has found
her place in life and leadership.
Recently, she got to pay back the
favor from all those years ago. She
was a member of AACC’s Commission
on Leadership and Professional
Development. Over two years, Nutt
and other college presidents examined
and expanded the Competencies for
Community College Leaders to include
more college types of leaders, and to
open more paths to the presidency.
To celebrate the release of the competencies, we thought we’d ask some
college presidents and aspiring college
presidents what the competencies mean
to them and how they use them to help
steer their colleges, students and local
economies to success.