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Academy immerses future leaders in success models

Photo provided Washington State Community College takes part in a leadership academy.

Transformational change is coming to Ohio’s community colleges with the help of 44 fellows who recently graduated from a new statewide leadership academy, including two administrators from Washington State Community College.

Assistant Dean for Transfer and Assessment David Scheimann and Dean of Student Success Kathy Temple-Miller represented WSCC as part of the first cohort to complete the Leadership Academy for Student Success, a first-of-its-kind, yearlong training fellowship for mid-level faculty and staff from Ohio’s 23 community colleges.

“It brought colleagues together from across the state, meeting as equals, to learn together and realize we have so much in common,” said fellow Scheimann. “We were learning how to internalize some of these big ideas around student success and it’s great to know I can reach out to colleagues at other colleges if I have a question or a problem.”

The academy is sponsored by the Ohio Association of Community Colleges’ (OACC) Success Center for Ohio Community Colleges, led by Laura Rittner.

“The fellows learned how to more effectively lead all the changes underway at our colleges – transformational changes – to improve student success,” said Rittner. “We brought together people who have different roles at colleges so they could have a deeper understanding of how all the parts of each school can work together to usher in these student success models.”

The president of each of the state’s community colleges could nominate two employees as fellows.

They met six times throughout the year for two-day meetings, first in person and then online as the pandemic took hold. Sessions were relevant to Ohio specifically and included aspects of the Aspen Institute’s presidential leadership curriculum. Fellows also worked on projects in small groups between sessions.

Fellow Erika Fenik, Director of Institutional Planning and Engagement at Lorain County Community College in Elyria, said she appreciated learning the rationale behind the student success model and sharing ideas with other fellows.

“We were learning how all the pieces integrate to support students on that pipeline to complete their education,” she said. “We learned about best practices and some of the impactful things we can do at the college for students.”

“States aiming to advance equitable student success must develop the transformational capacity of college leaders at every level,” said Joshua Wyner, founder and executive director of the College Excellence Program at the Aspen Institute, where he also serves as a vice president.

“OACC’s leadership academy is a great example of exactly that, and the Aspen Institute has been delighted to partner in the development of the curriculum for this program.”

The academy is funded by several national organizations, so colleges had minimal expenses to participate. Next year’s academy will begin early in 2021, Rittner said, in the hopes that sessions can be held in person. WSCC has selected Donhnall Godfrey, Assistant Professor of English, as its next representative.

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