The Community College Leadership Academy mission is to provide an avenue through which community colleges can prepare their future leaders while supporting existing talent. Targeting a select group of community college personnel identified as having potential for senior leadership positions, the Academy will offer Fellows a rigorous and supportive opportunity for leadership development and networking. Our goal is to develop well-prepared leaders for community colleges in New England who:

  • are versed in current educational leadership theory and informed through practical applications;
  • will continue the effective response of community colleges to student and community needs; and
  • are prepared for the new opportunities and challenges of meeting the mission of open access to higher education.


Why are some colleges consistently more successful than others in effecting student learning, sustaining staff morale, presenting a positive public image, managing growth, raising funds, and answering every challenge promptly and efficiently? According to many commentators, leadership is the answer. (Cohen and Brawer, The American Community College. 4th edition, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 2003, p. 135.)

But what exactly is leadership and how can individuals become effective leaders? The premise of CCLA is that a group of Fellows, working together and engaging in sustained intellectual inquiry and skill development, can become community colleges leaders. The curriculum of CCLA is intended to help this happen. We will explore the context for leadership in community colleges, trying to understand these institutions, how they evolved and where they stand today. We will address the subject of leadership directly, grappling with theories and concepts and how they apply to community college settings. We will explore a number of other subjects that are important in community colleges (e.g. the dynamics of complex, public organizations; teaching and learning; students; resources; accountability) seeking to understand how each presents management problems for community colleges as well as opportunities for leadership. There is a vast literature and theory base connected to each of these subjects and each could merit a year’s worth of study in its own right. Our intent is to provide an overview with sufficient depth to allow Fellows to appreciate the complex tapestry of community college leadership and to help them develop leadership skills and tools for further learning.

Each Fellow brings rich experience and knowledge about community colleges to CCLA. Our purpose is to learn from each other and to develop a learning community among Fellows that will continue beyond the Academy year. In each seminar we will strive to maintain balances among theory and practice, the abstract and specific, and academic learning and skill development. In practice this means that seminars will feature a mix of activities including lectures, discussions, invited speakers and panels, consideration of applications in community colleges through cases studies and other exercises. We will allow time for Fellows to work in groups and on their own projects. Community colleges and leadership will remain our primary focus throughout the curriculum. There are six primary goals for the Academy curriculum.

The goals are to:

  • Develop better prepared leaders for community colleges.
  • Bring greater understanding of important community college issues and their leadership implications.
  • Deepen understanding of leadership in general and one’s own leadership in particular.
  • Link theory and practice through the research, planning and implementation of a significant college project.
  • Facilitate professional networking.
  • Provide an opportunity for access to doctoral study.

In the decade ahead the challenge of tremendous student growth coupled with the loss of experienced and dedicated personnel at every level of our institutions presents both the context and the content for the Community College Leadership Academy.