It’s been in the works for two years, but in November
the American Association of Community
Colleges (AACC) released the third edition of its
Competencies for Community College Leaders.
Since 2005, the competencies have served as
a foundation for developing curriculums for
two-year college grow-your-own and community
college leadership doctoral programs. They also are
the cornerstone for AACC’s own Leadership Suite
programming. For individuals, the competencies
serve as an assessment to help determine where
gaps in experience exist.
“As more community college presidents head
toward retirement, we need to ensure that those
rising through the ranks have a grasp of the skills
necessary to be an effective leader,” AACC President
and CEO Walter Bumphus says. “We may not be
able to prepare for every scenario that can occur,
but these competencies provide leaders at every
level with the tools needed to react appropriately
and in the best interests of the institution and,
most importantly, the students.”
As community colleges have transformed and
as leaders have been charged with taking more
calculated risks in the pursuit of improved student
success rates, so too have the competencies evolved.
CLOSING SKILLS GAPS
This latest iteration is a guide for people at all
stages in their leadership journey: faculty, mid-
level leaders, senior-level leaders, and aspiring,
new and seasoned CEOs. It contains 11 focus
areas: Organizational Culture; Governance,
Institutional Policy, and Legislation; Student
Success; Institutional Leadership; Institutional
Infrastructure; Information and Analytics;
Advocacy and Mobilizing/Motivating Others;
Fundraising and Relationship Cultivation;
Communications; Collaboration; and Personal
Traits and Abilities.
Each focus area is broken down further into
several competencies, which are explained for each
stage of leadership; faculty members may have a different role to play than a senior-level leader or a CEO.
For example, under Advocacy and Mobilizing/
Motivating Others, one competency is stakeholder
mobilization. Faculty can accomplish this with a
willingness to “step up and be a leader amongst your
peers.” Aspiring CEOs, on the other hand, should be
able to “demonstrate ways that you have mobilized
internal and/or external stakeholders to support the
mission and goals of the community college.”
“As the national voice of community colleges,
AACC faced an imperative to ensure that the com-
petencies’ revision addressed the complexities of
leadership development for our sector,” AACC Chief
of Staff Angel Royal says.
AN ASPIRATIONAL DOCUMENT
The new document can be used by leaders to assess
their performance in their current jobs, to determine
their readiness for job mobility and to be cognizant of their leadership deficits so that they make
seek professional development opportunities to
strengthen those areas, Royal adds. In addition, the
document can be used by colleges as they craft job
descriptions for the types of experience they’re looking for to lead the 21st-century community college.
The AACC Commission on Leadership and
Professional Development was tasked with making
recommendations for this revision. Input also was
given by members of the AACC Board of Directors,
2018 Presidents Academy Summer Institute attend-ees and directors of doctoral graduate programs in
community college leadership, affiliated councils
and members of the AACC Faculty Advisory Council.
“Having been engaged as a stakeholder in the
initial development of the AACC Competencies
for Community College Leaders, and to have led
and coordinated stakeholder feedback from the
previous and current editions, I am humbled by
the number of our leaders committed to ensuring
that we have a robust pipeline of leaders prepared
to meet the current and future opportunities and
challenges of the position,” Royal says.
Those involved “were thoughtful in their input,
and they were appreciated for the collaborative
efforts in finalizing this document,” she says.
AACC’s Competencies for Community College
Leaders publication is available on AACC’s website.
guide leaders at all stages
By Tabitha Whissemore