Governance Institute Created to Increase Community College Student Completion Rates

The national Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) and The University of Texas at Austin's Community College Leadership Program (CCLP) have partnered to create the Governance Institute for Student Success, thanks to a $2 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Institute's goal is to help community college trustees and governing boards refine skills and develop agendas that improve students' academic achievement and increase community college completion rates. With the partnership of the CCLP and the ACCT , the Institute gains the expertise of the ACCT's already existing Governance Leadership Institute and the CCLP's highly rated Board of Trustees Institute.

"Community colleges are absolutely vital to our nation's higher education system and economy," says Diane Troyer, senior program officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, "but to ensure they deliver on this promise, it's critical to improve college completion rates. We applaud trustees' commitment to ensuring that their colleges identify current completion rates and put the policies and programs in place to improve completion."

Dr. Byron McClenney, a senior lecturer in The University of Texas at Austin College of Education's Department of Educational Administration, is project director for the grant. Ohio has been selected as the pilot state and its 23 community colleges will be invited to participate in one of two Governance Institutes offered later this year.

"The opportunity to blend good governance practices for trustees with the work we've been doing on student success is truly exciting," says McClenney. "This is a critical time for community and technical colleges, with enrollment rising rapidly and an even greater need than ever for students to gain practical workforce training.  The Institute will help trustees deal with the current shift in focus from access for students to student success, which has become the national conversation."

The ACCT is a non-profit educational organization of U.S. community, technical and junior colleges.  It represents more than 6,500 elected and appointed trustees who govern more than 1,200 institutions and whose decisions affect more than 11 million students annually.

The CCLP, which is in the College of Education's Department of Educational Administration, graduates more doctoral students who go on to become community college CEOs and senior administrators than any other similar program in the country. Its influence also is seen in the wide array of national initiatives with which it is involved. These include:

  • Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count
  • the California Leadership Alliance for Student Success
  • Student Success Institutes
  • the Gates Foundation-funded Development Education Initiative
  • the Ford Foundation-funded Bridges to Opportunity
  • the Center for Community College Student Engagement
  • the National Institute for Staff and Organization Development

"Trustees work with policymakers at all levels to ensure that their colleges remain accessible, affordable and accountable to their multiple constituencies," says Thomas M. Bennett, ACCT chair. "Student completion and institutional accountability represent the most important public policy work that trustees can undertake to fulfill their governance and fiduciary responsibilities."