As more and more community college presidents retire, it’s becoming increasingly critical for institutions to invest in leadership development. “Building a bench” of leaders isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s vital to the success of the nation’s community colleges.
The number of community colleges that have created internal leadership programs for staff and faculty is growing. Not everyone participating will become a president—or even wants to be a president. But the training is generally geared at helping participants grow in their current positions, prepare for new positions and learn more about the college.
There’s something to be said, as well, about developing a network of peers throughout the country. The American Association of Community Colleges’ John E. Roueche Future Leaders Institute (Roueche-FLI) brings together mid-level administrators from the nation’s community colleges.
The program is founded on the AACC Competencies for Community College Leaders. Participants gain strength in the areas of organizational strategy; institutional finance, research, fundraising and resource management; communication; collaboration and community college advocacy.
Faculty for Roueche-FLI include current and past presidents, chancellors and groundbreaking leaders. Topics include building effective relationships, conflict management, having an impact on the student success agenda, change management and fundraising.
“Participating in the FLI was more than just ‘another professional development experience.’ Instead, it was a substantive and intense dive into community college leadership,” said 2015 FLI participant Matt Franz. He’s the chief information officer at Clark State Community College in Ohio. “Personally, it completely changed my lens through which I understood leadership at the community college.”
Franz recommends FLI for anyone looking to add tools to their “leadership toolbox,” and grow their network.
“To this day, I have a list of people who I know I can reach out to on just about any type of request,” he said.
The next Roueche-FLI will take place June 25–28 in Washington, DC. Those whose next step is the presidency can participate in the AACC Future Presidents Institute, which is taking place at the same time.