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Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence

The Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence aims to develop a cadre of exceptional leaders who can transform community colleges to achieve higher levels of student success. Drawing on the exemplary work of excellent community colleges, the Aspen Institute and Stanford Graduate School of Education is engaging a select group of 40 fellows in an intensive, one-year, applied leadership executive program, delivered by the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative.  The Fellowship begins July 2020.  Meet our 2019-2020 Fellows.

Photo of fellows

Networking of the 2019-2020 Aspen Presidential Fellows begins at Stanford.

Program Overview

In order to succeed in this changing environment, the next generation of community college presidents must lead their institutions to deliver more credentials of higher quality at an affordable cost to an increasingly diverse population.

New Vision for Leadership

Community colleges enroll almost half of all undergraduates —including a disproportionate number of low-income, minority, and first-generation college students.  They provide essential pathways to degrees, certificates and well-paying jobs for millions of Americans.  But, too often this access does not lead to desired outcomes.  Less than 40% of community college students complete a credential. For low-income and minority students, completion rates are significantly lower.  Substantially improving outcomes is not easy, especially in an era of declining state funding, increasing accountability for student success, and evolving student demographics.

The Aspen Experience

The year-long fellowship includes three on-campus residential seminars (approximately 14 days of instruction) filled with thought-provoking learning and networking, plus structured mentoring for applied learning and strategic planning at home institutions.  Seminars are led by Aspen Institute and Stanford University faculty, as well as some of the nation’s top community college professionals and higher education experts, incorporating case studies, promising practices, and emerging research.

During the program, fellows build a presidential strategy portfolio that documents their unique approach and capacity to lead community colleges to reach high and improving levels of student success. Fellows receive constructive feedback from cohort peers and mentors on their portfolios, which ultimately they may use in presentations to boards, chancellors, and presidential hiring committees.

Strategic Curriculum

The Aspen Presidential Fellowship centers on three broad themes:

  • Leading for Impact
    • Defining and assessing student success in four key domans: learning, completion, labor market, and equitable outcomes
  • Leading Transformational Change
    • Re-envisioning the institutional culture and core practices to deeply and sustainably improve student success
    • Managing the internal change process
  • Partnering for Collective Action
    • Designing new structures with external partners - including K-12 schools, universities, community-based organizations, and employers - to improve student success

Additional Information

Visit the Aspen Institute website for more information!