2,000 Community College Trustees, Presidents Convene in Seattle to Move the Needle on Student Success

Bill Gates, Jamie Merisotis Among Notable Speakers

Community college students thank Bill Gates for supporting the nation's colleges and students.Oct. 8, 2013 - WASHINGTON - Nearly 2,000 community college trustees, presidents, and national and state leaders gathered at the 44th Annual Association of Community College Trustees(ACCT) Leadership Congress. The 2013 ACCT Congress was held October 2-5 in at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.
"ACCT and our colleagues at the Bill & Melinda Gates FoundationKresge FoundationLumina Foundation, theU.S. Department of Education, the American Association of Community Colleges and others," ACCT President and CEOJ. Noah Brown said, "have dedicated themselves to student success and achievement through increased educational attainment.  This year's ACCT Leadership Congress served to turn the best thinking to action."   

Brown, the author of the 2013 Bellwether Book Award-winning First in the World: Community Colleges and America's Future interviewed keynote speaker Bill Gates at the ACCT Congress opening general session on Wednesday.

Bill Gates, now co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on Wednesday touted the potential of technology to improve student support systems, targeted instruction, and other administrative services"The innovation opportunity at the community college level is starting to change," he told a standing-room only crowd at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle Wednesday evening.  "By getting ahead of that, it gives you time to shape it for the exact student body you've got and the needs they have."

On Thursday, Lumina Foundation President and CEO Jamie Merisotis told attendees that the student success agenda has reached "an inflection point," urging community college leaders to refocus their efforts on structural change.  "Changes on the margin simply cannot produce the gains we need," Merisotis said during Thursday's keynote address. "We need to revamp the higher education system [into] an integrated, fully linked system for developing human potential."  

Bill Gates speaks about innovation in higher education at 2013 ACCT Leadership CongressAlso Thursday, Congress attendees received briefings from foundation leaders, were updated on key legislative priorities, and participated in a roundtable discussion of  Brown's First in the World: Community Colleges and America's Future.

"Our future depends on affirming America's role as the leader in technology and innovation," Jim Wigfall, vice president of business support for Boeing's shared services group, said during Friday's keynote address. "That future depends on how well we educate students both in and outside of STEM disciplines."

On Saturday, new ACCT Chair LeRoy Mitchell, a trustee from Westchester Community College in New York, reaffirmed the association's "collective commitment to inclusion" as ACCT continues to promote and engender access to higher education for all, regardless of socioeconomic or other challenges.  
The ACCT Congress concluded on Saturday with a special panel on accreditation featuring chief executives from five higher-education accrediting agencies.  ACCT postedRegional Accreditation Standards for ACCT Congress attendees and member trustees on the ACCT website. 

Summaries of each day's events are available on the ACCT website.

Immediately prior to the ACCT Leadership Congress, on October 1 and 2, ACCT convened its fourth

Symposium on Student Success, which focused on the journey to college completion.  America's leaders in higher education, including trustees, presidents  and educators, as well as nationally recognized experts, researchers, and representatives from national membership associations, deliberated on the challenges to college completion. The attendees worked together on how to combine resources in order to identify the means by which to achieve the goal of improved college completion rates throughout the United States, specifically by utilizing their vastly different experiences to create innovative new solutions.  The symposium was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Kresge Foundation, and Lumina Foundation for Education.  And with the support of Ellucian, the entireSymposium on Student Success and select student success-related sessions from the 2013 ACCT Leadership Congress will be made available online next month.   

Lumina Foundation CEO Jamie Merisotis speaks to 2,000 trustees and presidents at 2013 ACCT Leadership CongressThe 44th Annual ACCT Leadership Congress featured over 80 educational sessions on best practices for community colleges, fundamental and advanced trustee training, and a lively town hall meeting dedicated to determining priorities in the governance of community college student success initiatives.  With additional pre-Congress sessions on effective governance, CEO contracts and evaluations, crisis preparedness and response, and the popular Governance Leadership Institute, attendees experienced many opportunities to review fundamental information and further enhance their seasoned expertise.



Founded in 1972, the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) is the nonprofit educational organization of governing boards, representing more than 6,500 elected and appointed trustees of community, technical, and junior colleges in the United States and beyond.  ACCT's purpose is to strengthen the capacity of community, technical, and junior colleges and to foster the realization of their missions through effective board leadership at local, state, and national levels.  For more information, visit www.acct.org. Follow ACCT on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CCTrustees.