ACCT Chair David Mathis Calls on Trustees to Fulfill a ‘Living Promise’ to Equity and Universal Access

October 9, 2020

During Thursday’s closing general session of the 2020 ACCT Congress, New ACCT Board of Directors Chair David Mathis charged community college leaders to make their institutions’ commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion a “living promise” to “fulfill the vision of universal access.”

“We are called to change as I become ACCT Chair,” said Mathis, a trustee at Mohawk Valley Community College in New York. “My goal is to help trustees lead the changes that will help our colleges build a stronger, better society.”

As ACCT’s 52nd Chair, Mathis pointed to parallels with the association’s creation during another era of upheaval and unrest. “The response to COVID has ripped apart carefully constructed five-year plans and left us, like many of our students, groping for a pathway forward by the guidance of a flickering candle,” Mathis told Congress attendees. “But what is glaringly obvious is that our society needs community colleges to become leaders in diversity and advocacy to promote student success and access.”

“None of us have all the answers, but we are all on this road together,” Mathis added. “ACCT has resources and expertise that can help provide roadmaps and guidance along the road, but it begins with a recognition that diversity cannot be an agenda item that follows COVID, but the route we take to create a new identity as we struggle to rebuild who we are.”

Later in the day, Mathis saluted ACCT President and CEO J. Noah Brown, who will step down at the conclusion of the 2021 ACCT Leadership Congress next October 13-16 in San Diego, for outstanding service and dedication over 25 years. Brown is ACCT's longest-serving chief executive.

Also during Thursday’s closing general session, keynote speaker Amber Angel spoke of her desire to change the conversation around the nearly 4 million student parents like herself across the country, two-thirds of whom are living in poverty.

“We all love an underdog story, we all like to see strength in struggle, but I’d like to challenge the notion that there really needs to be so much struggle to have strength and success,” said Angel, a former high school dropout and mother of two who ultimately graduated from Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC) and California State University, Northridge. “We need a community of care, and we need a culture shift… The solution is having policies and programs in place.”

Now a program coordinator at LAVC’s Family Resource Center, Angel called on other institutions to provide services like the center, the only one of its kind in the state. “I want my success story to be remembered by the guidance and support of a model program that can and should be replicated across all 115 community colleges in California and one day across all the community colleges in our country and restructure how we see students in higher education forever.”

Also during Thursday’s closing session, Congress attendees recognized the outstanding community college trustee, equity program, CEO, faculty member, and professional board staff member honored with 2020 ACCT Association Awards.

More than 1,000 community college leaders participated in this year’s Congress, which was re-envisioned as a virtual event focused on the exchange of critical information and ideas on successful new models, innovations, programs, as well as active networking with community college leaders from across the country. In addition to the keynote presentation, day four featured 20 concurrent sessions that addressed topics ranging from colleges’ response to the pandemic to strategies to support student mental health.

All 2020 ACCT Leadership Congress sessions, including general sessions and all 60 concurrent sessions, will be available for on-demand viewing by live participants beginning October 12.

For more information, visit http://congress.acct.org. Search #ACCT2020 on Twitter for more from the event.