2018 ACCT Leadership Congress Kicks Off With Focus on Excellence, Funding Needs

Day 1

October 25, 2018

The 2018 ACCT Community College Leadership Congress kicked off Wednesday by highlighting the work of community colleges that have made significant gains in improving student outcomes — and by calling attention to “the discrepancy between what our institutions give and what they receive in delivering on the promise,” ACCT President and CEO J. Noah Brown said.

A video introduced during Wednesday’s opening session highlighted that discrepancy with a series of sobering statistics: Community colleges serve 40 percent of all college students and contribute $800 billion to the U.S. economy, but they receive less than half the per-student funding as peer four-year institutions and up to eight times less in appropriations. 

“As much as students trust us and communities trust us to transform lives, there are many challenges that remain — especially funding challenges,” Brown said . “Community colleges deserve support. This is a message I’m going to ask you all to commit to sharing as we move into 2019.”

The 2018 ACCT Leadership Congress theme is "Partnerships: Building Blocks to Student Success." The event features over 130 educational sessions presented by community colleges and affiliates. 

Wednesday's opening session featured a roundtable discussion with community college leaders whose institutions exemplify “scaled and sustainable work in student success,” as moderator Josh Wyner, founder and director of the College Excellence Program at the Aspen Institute, put it. Pam Eddinger, president of Bunker Hill Community College in Massachusetts, Mike Flores, chancellor of Alamo Colleges in Texas, DeRionne Pollard, president of Montgomery College in Maryland, and Madeline M. Pumariega, chancellor of the Florida College System, discussed approaches ranging from focusing on part-time students and guided pathways to metrics and inclusion. 

Community college leaders also stressed the importance of trustees collaborating with their CEOs to create a framework for student success. “Goal setting can be an easy process. There’s not enough conversation that occurs between a board and a president about what it’s going to take to get there,” Pollard said. “It’s about working in partnership to develop a strategy…. Sophisticated, thoughtful boards ask, ‘What role do you need us to take in this?’”

Also on Monday, ACCT released the results of its 2018 Citizen Trustee Survey. The survey details trustees’ backgrounds, roles, and challenges in serving community colleges and their students. From 2017 to 2018, the survey was disseminated to trustees across the country including members and non-members of ACCT. The association received approximately 1,100 unique responses, providing the field’s most current and comprehensive data of individuals serving on community college boards. Read more about the Citizen Trustee findings at Inside Higher Ed.

More than 1,800 community college trustees, presidents, and advocates are in New York City for the 2018 Congress, which continues through Saturday. Participants will be tweeting throughout the conference using #ACCT2018

Today, ACCT in partnership with The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, released a new report detailing how community colleges and business can partner to improve student success. Partnerships for a Future-Ready Workforce can be downloaded here.

“Higher education is changing in ways that no one would have ever begun to predict when we last met in New York City 10 years ago,” said ACCT Chair Emily Yim, a trustee at Edmonds Community College in Washington. “This presents challenges for all of us, and it also presents opportunities.”