Celebrating 25 years of developing community college leaders

The Community College Leadership Doctoral Program (CCLP) at Morgan State University celebrates 25 years of educating the next generation of community college leaders.  This pipeline to executive positions at a two-year college or system will help to address the increasing number of positions vacated by the growing number of senior community college leaders approaching retirement.

Program Director Dr. Myrtle Dorsey salutes the 25 years of exceptional students, outstanding graduates, learned faculty, and extraordinary accomplishments in the field of community college leadership.  Today, the CCLP is one of the largest doctoral programs in community college leadership in the country.  Through the years, more than 500 scholars have been enrolled in 62 cohorts, yielding more than 250 graduates.  This fall, there are 136 scholars in the pipeline.  This preparation of education practitioners began as a three-year campus-based program and is now offered 100% online.

Dorsey reflects that newly minted leaders, no matter their roles, must be ready for the unexpected. Many aspire to the presidency role, but some seek positions as dean, or vice president, or to be better equipped as faculty members.

A major emphasis of the CCLP is to support and inspire research that is relevant to contemporary issues and concerns of the nation’s 1,038 community colleges.  Although research and theory are important, according to Dorsey, “putting theory into practice” is the watchword for the EdD initiative at MSU.  The program, only open to individuals with direct experience in higher education, follows American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) competencies delivered through Quality Matters guidelines.  In alignment with the MSU mission, the goals of open access, equity, and inclusion are guiding principles.

Once upon a time

The Community College Leadership Doctoral Program initially was designed to prepare working two-year community college professionals for senior level leadership roles and professorial positions within the community college setting.  All admitted scholars were committed to attaining a Doctor of Education degree, and in alignment with Morgan’s mission, they helped to ensure that the benefits of higher education are enjoyed by a broad segment of the population.  Students were prepared to emerge from the program equipped to handle the unique and diverse leadership challenges associated with leading and teaching in the 21st-century community college.

These goals helped to reverse the underrepresentation in doctoral degrees for educators in community colleges and other more access-oriented institutions.  Graduates were prepared for the reality of the marketplace, prepared for increased capacity for research, and prepared for the rigor of advanced leadership opportunities.

In the beginning

Since the original program was developed in 1998, the direction and emphases for community colleges and expectations for their leadership have changed considerably. For both educators and the community, there is renewed emphasis on workforce development for advancement and economic stability for independence.

All members of the community college community seek institutional knowledge and learning experiences to better understand how they can make an impact.  As vast numbers of community college leaders retire from senior leadership positions, expectations of today’s leaders have shifted.  New leaders are transformational, more collaborative and inclusive, realizing leadership is about impact for every segment of the institution.

In their research and approach, program scholars and graduates understand and respond to the shifting priorities.  They also take advantage of access to a variety of opportunities for growth and a global professional network of scholars and mentors.

Program success stories

Graduates of the CCLP have achieved success not only in advancing to community college leadership positions, but also are demonstrating transferrable skills that propelled them to positions in other sectors of higher education, government service, and community engagement.

  • Scholar Troy Miller was named vice president for strategic enrollment management at the University of Southern Indiana.
  • Alum Dr. Kevin Wade was selected for National Higher Education Leadership Foundation membership.
  • Alum Dr. Harriette Scott is the new SREB vice president of postsecondary education.
  • Alum Dr. Franceska Jones is the president & principal consultant of Jones Consulting Firm.
  • Alum Dr. Calvin Ball serves as Howard County Executive.
  • Alum Dr. Kimberly Beatty serves as chancellor at Metropolitan Community College-Kansas City.
  • Alum Dr. Monica Brown serves as senior vice president for student affairs at Montgomery College.
  • Alum Dr. Angel Clay serves as director of admissions & recruitment at Capitol Technology University.
  • Alum Dr. Erika K. Davis serves as director of admissions and new student orientation at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.
  • Alum Dr. Joseph Issac serves as president of the Nubian American Advanced College.
  • Alum Dr. Bill Heiser serves as chief operating officer of Anne Arundel County Public Schools.
  • Alum Dr. Irving Clark was appointed as president of Southern Crescent Technical College.
  • Alum Dr. R. Michael Welsh was appointed as dean of the School of Arts and Communication at the Community College of Baltimore County.
  • Alum Dr. Leslie Jackson was appointed director of the student support services program at Baltimore City Community College.
  • Alum Dr. Jonelle Knox was named assistant provost for academic affairs, student success, and retention at New Jersey City University.
  • Alum Dr. Patricia Riley has been appointed dean of general education at Wor-Wic Community College in Salisbury, Maryland.
  • Alum Dr. Derek Moore was selected as the next president at New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs, New Mexico.

Demonstrating excellence and broad community interest and engagement while in the program, three scholars — Josalind Chambers, Michael Covington and Adrienne Matthews — during the dissertation phase of their CCLP doctoral studies, were selected to participate as Fellows at NACCE, a national program dedicated to supporting entrepreneurship education and fostering academic excellence.

What does the future have in store for CCLP?

The Community College Leadership Doctoral Program will continue to offer the 100% online Doctor of Education (EdD) Program as an opportunity for community college practitioners and other leaders to explore, discover and advance significant innovations.  CCLP also will continue to offer a master’s degree in Community College Administration and Instruction.

In response to widespread interest and expanded vision and programmatic goals, the CCL Program also will offer a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Community College Leadership.  The new PhD Program, available for Fall 2025 admission, will feature the following:

  • Additional research focus
  • High residency and low residency (required residency weekends) options available
  • Dissertation requirement
  • Interest in two-year colleges as catalysts for social and economic change
  • Emphasis on policy reform and practice in urban educational systems

To acknowledge this 25-year milestone, the Community College Leadership Doctoral Program has scheduled a series of events for April 2024 during National Community College Month, including a research symposia on April 16 and a CCLP 25th anniversary luncheon on April 19.