9 college presidents on “my proudest achievement”

Higher-ed leaders share career highlights

eCampus News asked higher-ed leaders: What event or accomplishment at your institution are you most proud of? Here are their answers.

“There have been a number of accomplishments at the college that we are all proud of, including increasing our number of graduates over the past two years; opening a campus Food Bank in November 2017 to address the food insecurities of college students; in just our second year, hosting more than 500 high school juniors and seniors for ‘Dabney Day,’ where students participated in career exploration; and partnering with a local organization to offer entrepreneurship training and mentoring for local individuals.”
—John J. Rainone, president, Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, Virginia

“Once a year, we celebrate our best day of the year, which is graduation. To stand in front of 12,000 individuals who come in to support and share their love of our 2,000 graduates is simply exhilarating.”
—Michael J. Smith, president, Berkeley College, New York and New Jersey

“I am most proud of our efforts to create more pathways to college for talented students, especially for lower- and middle-income students. This year, I was pleased to share that we have committed $100 million in new need-based student aid since 2015—well ahead of our stated goal of reaching that number by 2020.”
—Michael V. Drake, MD, president, The Ohio State University

“Our current work to bring American college degrees to refugees. No one is trying to do it at our scale or results and it is the hardest thing we’ve ever done. Probably the most important as well.”
—Paul J. LeBlanc, president, Southern New Hampshire University

“When I arrived at Bentley 11 years ago, I wanted to make the advancement of women in the corporate world a top priority and I knew a business university was the perfect place to do it. I am incredibly proud to have launched the Center for Women and Business at Bentley during my tenure. The Center brings together thought leaders and business executives to help uncover the best ways to recruit, retain, and advance women. It also engages with faculty, staff, and students, both male and female, to better prepare the next generation of female business leaders.

“The Center also works directly with companies and senior executives to address gender disparities, knowing this is where much of the change must be championed. The reality is that gender equality and workplace diversity are not just moral issues, they are financial ones, too—and research shows that companies that are more diverse outperform those that aren’t.

“I am thrilled that, as part of my legacy, the Center will continue to empower women. And I’m humbled that the Center was named in my honor as I stepped down as president of Bentley on June 30.”
—Gloria Larson, president, Bentley University, Massachusetts

“In my 11 years at Broward College, we have accomplished a lot. Our national ranking by the Aspen Institute as a Finalist with the Distinction in 2017 and as a Top Ten Finalist in 2013, 2016, and again this year, have been markers of which I am extremely proud. It validates all the hard work we have done in developing new initiatives to support academics and student success, such as the Guided Pathways Model, and investing in our faculty and staff so they offer the best guidance to our students. My proudest moments, though, come twice per year when we get to see our students graduate and move on to finding great careers. Just this May, more than 5,200 students met the requirements for graduation. We awarded 2,916 associate degrees, the highest number in the history of the College. These numbers show the impact of the lives that are being transformed by what we do.”
—J. David Armstrong, Jr., president, Broward College

“Creating an enduring strategic plan for the university, one that is now in its third five-year cycle. By including hundreds of faculty and staff in the planning process, trusting in the campus community to make decisions that many presidents insist are their own to make, and tying budget decisions to the plan (“If it’s in the plan, it gets funded; if it isn’t, it doesn’t get funded.”), I was able to gain campus-wide buy-in on a shared vision, while depoliticizing resource allocations.”
—Elsa Núñez, president, Eastern Connecticut State University

“Our faculty and staff know our students by name and care deeply for their success.”
—Kris Williams, PhD, president/CEO, Henderson Community College, Kentucky

“It’s hard to chose just one; that’s like naming a favorite child. When I think about the good work happening at ACC, I think about those moments of innovation and collaboration that have helped us truly transform how our students are learning and the ways in which they are succeeding. The complete transformation happening at ACC Highland with the ACCelerator and the ACC Bioscience Incubator is reimagining higher education as we know it. Because of that, we’re the newest member of the League for Innovation in the Community College. I’m really proud of the energy and innovation our faculty and staff as a whole have put into this effort. We want to help more students succeed, and this is how we’re getting there.”
—Richard Rhodes, president and chief executive officer, Austin Community College, Texas


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