The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program and the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) today announced that CSM Vice President for Operations and Planning Dr. Bill Comey, of Calvert County, is one of 40 leaders selected for the 2021-22 class of the Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship, a highly selective leadership program preparing the next generation of community college presidents to transform institutions to achieve higher and more equitable levels of student success. 

The Rising Presidents Fellows will embark on the 10-month fellowship beginning in November 2021. Delivered in collaboration with the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative, the fellows will be mentored by esteemed current and former community college presidents who have achieved exceptional outcomes for students throughout their careers and will learn strategies to improve student outcomes in and after college, lead internal change, and create strong external partnerships with K-12 schools, four-year colleges, employers, and other partners.

“To become institutions that truly advance social mobility and talent development, community colleges must have presidents with a clear vision for equitable student success,” said Monica Clark, director of leadership initiatives at the College Excellence Program.“We have selected these fellows because they share that commitment and are well-positioned to become transformational leaders.”

“Bill has dedicated his career to developing innovative programs and services that expand access to higher education, assist students in identifying and achieving their goals, enhance the learning environment, and serve the community,” said CSM President Dr. Maureen Murphy. “He is a thoughtful and dynamic leader – as demonstrated repeatedly over the last 17 months during the COIVD-19 crisis. Bill’s tireless work to ensure the safety and well-being of our faculty, staff, and students during the pandemic allowed us to stay focused on student success and maintain the continuity of our mission. We are all thrilled to hear of Bill’s selection to the Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship and look forward to following and supporting his continued success.”

The Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship responds to the growing need for a new generation of leaders well-equipped to meet the challenges of the future. Nationally, nearly 80 percent of sitting presidents plan to retire in the next decade. While the traditional pathway to the presidency has often excluded women and people of color, the incoming class of Aspen Rising Presidents Fellows is composed of 68 percent women and 70 percent people of color, and represents institutions of varying sizes and locations.

Together, the 2021-22 fellows are leaders at colleges that collectively serve more than 400,000 students. As well, 67 Rising Presidents Fellowship alumni have become presidents of community colleges that collectively serve an additional 953,000 students nationwide.

Meet the 2021-22 Aspen Rising Presidents Fellows

  • Aarti Dhupelia, National Louis University (IL)
  • Aisha Noni Lowe, California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CA)
  • Arlene Rodriguez, Middlesex Community College (MA)
  • Cedric Bradley, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MS)
  • Clarissa Cota, College of Southern Nevada (NV)
  • Cory Clasemann, Ivy Tech Community College (IN)
  • Denise Douglas, Lorain County Community College (OH)
  • Diane Stiles, Lake Area Technical College (SD)
  • Edgar Soto, Pima Community College (AZ)
  • Eric Dunker, Arapahoe Community College (CO)
  • George Timmons, Columbia-Greene Community College (NY)
  • Heather Bigard, Lake-Sumter State College (FL)
  • Helen Castellanos Brewer, SUNY Rockland Community College (NY)
  • Iris Freemon, Dallas College (TX)
  • Jean Marie Runyon, Front Range Community College (CO)
  • Jennifer Diane Eccles, Minnesota State HealthForce Center of Excellence (MN)
  • Jessica Robinson, Cuyamaca College (CA)
  • Kate Connor, Harry S Truman (IL)
  • Kathryn Anne Rogalski, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (WI)
  • Kimberly Hurns, Washtenaw Community College (MI)
  • Kristen Raney, Saint Paul College (MN)
  • Lamata Mitchell, Pima Community College (AZ)
  • Levy Brown, Jr., Vance-Granville Community College (NC)
  • Lizette Navarette, California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CA)
  • Michelle Schutt, College of Southern Idaho (ID)
  • Mike Munoz, Long Beach City College (CA)
  • Monica Parrish Trent, Achieving the Dream, Inc. (MD)
  • John Maduko, Minnesota State Community and Technical College (MN)
  • Pamela Poh-Ling Lau, Parkland College (IL)
  • Ryan Ross, Colorado Community College Students (CO)
  • Sanjay Rai, Montgomery College (MD)
  • Shawnda Navarro Floyd, Dallas College (TX)
  • Terricita Edreana Sass, Reynolds Community College (VA)
  • Tiffany Hunter, Clark State College (OH)
  • Tina Maria King, Southwestern Community College District (CA)
  • Tracie Sawyer Clark, Central Piedmont Community College (NC)
  • Uppinder Mehan, West Kentucky Community and Technical College (KY)
  • Van Allen Wigginton, San Jacinto College (TX)
  • William Comey, College of Southern Maryland (MD)
  • Yoshiko Harden, Seattle Central College (WA)

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