"Leadership can be learned. While it can be enhanced immeasurably by natural aptitude and experience, supporting leaders with exposure to theory, concepts, cases, guided experiences, and other practical information and learning methodologies is essential" (AACC Competencies for Leaders).

"Everything the leader does reflects what he or she is." - Warren Bennis

Compentencies For Community College Leaders

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A Leading Forward Report

(New Community College Leadership Programs Meet 21st-Century Needs)


Issues of Interest

Impact of Technology

Advice from Faculty

Drivers of Change

Additional Resources


How are leadership challenges in a
community college unique to the environment?

  1. Articles/Major Reports:
    • AACJC, Building Community: A Vision for a New Century: A Report of the Commission on the Future of Community Colleges (1988); AACC, Community Colleges: Core Indicators of Effectiveness (1998);
    • Amey, M.J., Vanderlinden, K.E., & Brown, D.F., "Perspectives on Community College Leadership: Twenty Years in the Making," Community College Journal of Research and Practice, vol. 26, no. 7-8 (2002);
    • Dougherty, K.J. "The Politics of Community College Expansion: Beyond the Functionalist and Class-Reproduction Explanations." American Journal of Education, 1988, 96(3), 351-393;
    • Hines, M., "Community College Leadership," Liberal Education, vol. 78, no. 5 (1992), pp. 30-33
    • Mawdsley, R.D. Student Rights, Safety, and Codes of Conduct. In R.C. Cloud (ed.) Legal Issues in Community Colleges. New Directions for Community Colleges, no. 125, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2004:
    • O'Bannion, T. Creating More Learning-Centered Community Colleges." Mission Viejo, CA: League for Innovation in the Community College, 1997;
    • Shults, C., "The Critical Impact of Impending Retirements on Community College Leadership," AACC Research Briefs (2001);
    • Zwerling, L.S. Second Best: The Crisis of the Community College.New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976.
    • Leadership Executive Summary:
    • http://kresge.org/sites/default/files/Edu-CC%20Leadership%20Final%20Executive%20Summary.pdf
  2. Websites/links:
  3. Professional Associations:
  4. Tools and Practices for Leaders to Consider:
    • Cooperation among multiple stakeholders can leverage an op
    • en leadership community
    • Media continues to be personal and collaborative requiring nimble and savvy leadership
    • Disciplines of readiness focus leaders on resilience
    • Life and learning are serious games, changing pedagogy
    • Community colleges become hubs in value networks of teams of services
    • Mentoring is beneficial to both individuals and the organization collectively


Issues of Interest

What are the salient issues for
community college leaders?

  1. Articles/Major Reports:
    1. AACC, State by State Profile of Community Colleges (2003);
    2. AACC, Faces of the Future: Findings from the 2006 National Comparison Data Report (2006);
    3. Bailey, T., Jenkins, D., Graduation Rates, Student Goals, and Measuring Community College Effectiveness, (2005);
    4. Brown, L., Martinez, M., & Daniel, D., "Community College Leadership Preparation: Needs, Perceptions, and Recommendations," Community College Review, vol. 30, no. 1 (Summer 2002), pp. 45-73;
    5. Ebbers, L.H., Gallisath, G., Rockel, V., & Coyan, M.N., "The Leadership Institute for a New Century (LINC): LINCing Woman & Minorities into Tommorrow's Community College Leadership Roles," Community College Journal of Research and Practice, vol. 24, (2000), pp. 375-382;
    6. Jaschik, S. "Adjuncts and Graduation rates," Inside Higher Ed, Oct. 16, 2006, n.p.;
    7. C.M. McMahon (ed.), Critical Thinking: unfinished Business, New Directions for Community Colleges, no.,130, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005.
    8. Moriarty, D. F., "The President's Office." In A.M. Cohen, F.B. Brawer, and Associates (eds.), Managing Community Colleges: A Handbook for Effective Practice, San Francisco: Jossey-bass, 1994;
    9. Roueche, John E. and others, "Shared Vision: Transformational Leadership in American Community Colleges," AACC (1989).
    10. Sandeen, A., "Educating the Whole Student: The Growing Importance of Student Affairs." Change, 2004, 36(3), 28-33.
  2. Key Environmental Skills Needed for Leaders to Adapt to a Changing Community College Scene
  • Changing from community college solving discrete problems to managing options for dilemmas
  • Moving from hierarchical structures to hybrid networks called heterarchies
  • Centering on blue ribbon style panels to tacit knowledge and context-based experiences
  • Creating computer labs to pervasive ubiquitous computing
  • Designing a consumer culture to a do-it-yourself culture
  • Applying one size fits all degrees to new custom fit programs
  • Managing ubiquitous and monolithic infrastructures to lightweight, smart and ad hoc infrastructures
  • Morphing from service providers to platform developers with multiple community partners
  • Consciously targeting and training rising Faculty or junior leaders to prepare for the oncoming shortfall in leadership at the most senior levels
  • Promoting women and racial minorities to positions of power in the increasingly diverse Community College environment

3. Advice for Future Presidents...

Great article on advice to aspiring community college leaders: (Community College Daily)


Impact of Technolgy

How will technology impact
leadership challenges?

  1. Professional Recommendations:
    See special Issue of New Directions for Community College, No 128, winter 2004, "From Distance Education to E-Learning: Lessons Along The Way". The special journal edition highlights the history of distance education, twelve necessary maxims for creating and sustaining a distance education program, examples of successful programs in Virginia, the issues and challenges of moving distance learning into a community college culture, the lessons learned around costs of e-learning, work and quality of life issues around e-learning, Oregon's success with e-learning, new challenges evolving technology and creativity, and sources for distant learning educators, including Americans with Disabilities Act, the TEACH, and learning objectives. This resource is a gem of practicality! (review in Distance Education Report 1/05)
  2. Relevant Literature:
    1. Akroyd, D., Jaeger, A., Jackowski, M., & Jones, L.C. (2004). "A comparison of access to the Internet and use of the Web for instruction: A national study of full-time and part-time community college faculty". Community College Review, 32(1), 40-51.
    2. Al-Bataineh, A., & Brooks, L. (2003). "Challenges, advantages and disadvantages of instructional technology in the community college classroom". Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 27(6), 473-484.
    3. Jonassen, D. H. (1996). Computers in the classroom: Mindtools for critical thinking. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
    4. Rhoades, G. (1998). Managerial professionals: Unionized faculty and restructuring academic labor . Albany: State University of New York.
    5. Shein, E. H. (2004). Organizational culture and leadership (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Weick, K.E. (2001). Making sense of the organization. Oxford, UK: Blackwell
    Additional Relevant Literature:
    • Hernandez, L., & Ewigleben, R. (2008). Doctorate in community college leadership feasibility study. Big Rapids, MI: Ferris State University.
    • Luna, G. (1998). Breakpoint! Community college leadership in the new millennium. Michigan Community College Journal, 4(2), 43-51.
    • McNair, D. E., Duree, C. A., & Ebbers, L. (2011). If I knew then what I know now: Using the leadership competencies developed by the American Association of Community Colleges to prepare community college presidents. Community College Review, 39(1), 3-25. doi: 10.1177/0091552110394831
    • Sullivan, L.G. (2001). Four generations of community college leadership. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 25(8), 559-571.
    • Vaughan, G. B., & Weisman, I. M. (1998). The community college presidency at the millennium. Washington, DC: Community College Press.
  3. Summary of the Issues:
  4. Technology as a topic has a wide variety of responses from higher education scholars. The reactions
    range from unnecessary and marginalizing (Rhoades, 1998) to beneficial (Akroyd, Jaeger,
    Jackowski, & Jones, 2004). What are the implications for community college leaders?
    Leaders must understand their environmental culture to answer questions swirling around technology.
    Leaders must engage faculty in conversations of benefits, purposes, mission, and student outcomes in
    order to understand the practical applications of local course related technology and major
    college-wide and programatic decisions.
    Leaders who demand technological applications in the classrooms at community colleges face
    significant push-back from faculty--administratives mandates can bring faculty resistance even
    when the results are important to students.
  • Leaders must know the cultures in which they serve. How does the student/faculty/staff populations use technology, and how is each population different?
  • Technology brings unintended consequences to morale. A poor implementation of technology can create a cloud of negativity.
  • Technology is not a fad and is here to stay; as is conflict about this topic!
  • Technology can expand pedigogical options for faculty when implemented properly and users learn/understand how to use it.
  • Technology impacts tightly and loosely coupled organizations differently;
    • Tightly coupled institutions are more at ease with technology at the core of the mission, while loosely coupled institutions continue to struggle with issues of identity, mission drift, and academic freedom.
  • These issue will challenge any community college leader.

Advice From FacultyFaculty.jpg
Advice from a faculty member worthy
of sharing with all faculty to address mission

Dr. John Zappa has 8 ideas to share:

  1. good instruction is set by the faculty member, not the technology;
  2. plan ahead and know that if something can go wrong, it will;
  3. stay in touch with students by technology
  4. greet them each week;
  5. schedule weekly chat rooms for students to share their thinking with others;
  6. provide guidelines for use of chatrooms;
  7. partner students for maximum learning and sharing;
  8. regardless of the delivery method, encourage faculty to make any course fun!

The Wired Tower

What does it take to be a community college president?
Presidents were also asked about the administrative skill areas they considered to be important for their positions. In large part because of survey design considerations (avoiding lists that were too long), knowledge or content areas were separated from skill areas. Presidents identified the following top five skills or abilities important for their roles.In priority order, they are:
  • Board roles and governance
  • Community relations/engagement
  • Funding models/financial management/budgeting
  • Resource development
  • Politics (local, state, and national)

Advice for Tomorrow’s Presidents
Today’s leaders are generous in their advice for other leaders. In response to this question—What advice do you have for individuals striving to achieve a key leadership role? —presidents offered the following:
  • Be humble, while maintaining your ego. Never assume you are indispensible--everyone is replaceable, including the president. Own your mistakes and learn from them; know that anything that happens on your watch or under your leadership is your responsibility and you must be accountable for it all. (Don't blame others or whine!) Always look for new and different ways that an issue can be solved; don't fall back on tradition or how we have done it in the past. Again—learn, learn, learn. (This first contribution is a continuation of the contribution from the opening paragraph of this article.)
  • Be a team player.
  • Make certain that you have the stomach for it and enjoy a life of learning, conflict, and interdependence with a fickle public, and a real desire to have an impact.
  • Get as much experience as you can in all aspects of higher education.
  • Learn more; talk less. What you think you already know is not enough to ensure success; you must always be a learner as much as a leader.
  • Be able to work under pressure. Be able to serve as an oasis when others perceive a storm.
  • Read, listen, study. Then speak.
  • Accept that you are one player on the team and neither you nor your area is more important than any other area on campus.
  • You need a variety of skills. Find a mentor that can help you gain experience in many areas.

How to have a successful presidency:
"To have a successful presidency, you cannot be burdened by unnecessary controversy. Other than lack of control over the college budget, excessive travel and entertainment expenses seem to be the land mines that get presidents into trouble. Be careful with your use of college credit cards. Double-check all of your expense claims to be sure they are accurate. You are likely to make some decisions that are unpopular, and there will be people who are only too happy to make an issue of your expenditures, both the amount and the appropriateness." (Boggs, 2013) http://chronicle.com/article/A-Different-Set-of-Advice-for/142025/


Drivers of Change

Drivers of Change for Consideration-
Questions to Research

    • How will the community college extend the concept of learning in a community due to technology?
    • How will inexpensive mobile devices (PDA's, cell phones, iPods) extend learning throughout the community for community colleges?
    • How will the targeted information embedded in context-specific information extend the role of the community college?
    • How will media-rich pervasive learning/stimulate new educational practices and research that will impact community colleges?
    • How will serious games (alternative realities and digital play) create and impact pedagogy in community colleges?
    • How will media-savvy youth impact community colleges in their facility to use social networking devices?
    • How will the digital natives coming to community colleges change those institutions?

Leading through Change

    • D. Wallin, "Looking to the Future: Change Leaders for Tomorrow’s Community Colleges" DOI: 10.1002/cc.390 (Find on EBSCOhost)
      • "Change leaders build inclusive learning communities and seek out new leaders to encourage and mentor. In fact, “institutionalizing a leadership-centered culture is the ultimate act of leadership” (Kotter, 1998, p. 53). This is the new reality for change leaders." (pg4)
      • 4 A's of change leadership: Anticipate, Analyse, Act, Affirm:
        • "First, change leadership anticipates. It is visionary and forward-looking. It avoids reactionary thinking and acting. Second, change leadership is constantly analyzing the environment, both internal and external, to gather reliable data on which to make decisions. It engages in strategic and tactical planning to make the most of the moment. Third, change leadership acts. With a vision and a plan, with accurate and current data, action is collaborative and inclusive; however, it is also immediate and decisive. It builds on the strengths of team members. It is accountable to stakeholders. Finally, change leadership affirms. It is not enough to have a vision, a plan, and action. Once action is implemented, attention is given to continuing to review and affirm the change." (pg 8)

    • R. Cloud, "Epilogue: Change Leadership and Leadership Development" DOI: 10.1002/cc.398 (Find on EBSCOhost)
      • "Community college leadership has since evolved into a dynamic process with a host of participants. Gone are the days when administrators act unilaterally and arbitrarily on college issues. Although the president retains the final authority to carry out assigned duties, prudent leaders insist on broad-based participation in the leadership process, for obvious reasons. Nationwide, the current trend is toward increased involvement and shared responsibility in college change leadership (Cloud and Kater, 2008)." (pg 74)
      • "Change leadership is more complex than either transactional or transformational leadership. The former focuses primarily on maintenance and management of the status quo with incremental changes as needed; the latter facilitates systemic change through the leader’s articulated vision and a motivated workforce (Roueche, Baker, and Rose, 1989). Change leadership, by contrast, facilitates changes in both employees and the organization. Community college change leaders create a “culture of change” where faculty and staff are encouraged to brainstorm current and anticipated issues and recommend changes." (pg 74)

    • P. Eddy, "Leaders as Linchpins for Framing Meaning" ISSN: 00915521 Accession Number: 48964680 (Find on EBSCOhost)
      • "A variety of tools exist for framing information, including rituals or traditions, stories, jargons, and metaphors. In particular, creating an institutional saga (Clark, 1972) can help constituents reflect on the culture of the college and interpret new information in a way that is consistent with its mission and goals. How leaders communicate and frame information is linked to leadership approaches and communication styles (Fairhurst, 2001), and presidents leadership preferences affect the ways in which they frame new information for campus constituents."

    • J. Malm, "Six Community College Presidents: Organizational Pressures, Changes Processes, And Approaches To Leadership" DOI: 10.1080/10668920802103813 (Find on EBSCOhost)
      • "Executive leadership was an important component in a community college’s success in fulfilling its mission and achieving its vision. The individual personalities, experiences, and worldviews of the six presidents were integral to their change processes and leadership approaches. The integrations were so complete that most presidential predecessors and successors would, and will, invariably have their own unique processes and leadership approaches."


Additional Resources

Additional Websites to extend learning
in a variety of areas

community college leadership.jpg

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