The Opportunity to Lead
In this, my last year as LBCC's president, I am often struck by the great honor and privilege it has been to lead such an amazing community of teachers and learners. We are almost universally recognized as a leader institution, taking on challenges (which we tend to see more as opportunities) like freedom of expression and serving as early adopters of paradigm shifting efforts like Guided Pathways, and I know that this is because of the passion that we all share for a uniquely powerful Mission of “engaging in an education that enables all of us to participate in, contribute to, and benefit from the cultural richness and economic vitality of our communities.” Because of this, the opportunity to lead has extended far beyond the LBCC campus, and I want to share some of the most recent of these opportunities with you here.
- On October 28th I was invited to join a legislative workgroup lead by Senator Michael Dembrow, focusing on the role that post-secondary education might play in helping Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) inmates make a successful reentry into our communities. Even though we do not have a DOC facility in our District, we are recognized as innovative leaders in this work due to the entrepreneurial efforts of people like Malinda Shell, Tracy Dusseau, Sonya James, and Lynne Cox in our development of a pilot program partnership between DOC, Linn County Parole and Probation, Community Corrections, and LBCC, as well as my work with the Governor’s DOC Reentry Council.
- On November 1st I was invited to participate in a Greater Albany Public School (GAPS) Strategic Planning workgroup, during which I was able to emphasize the importance of aligning middle school and high school curriculum with post-secondary education, emphasizing that student success is best supported by a shared strategy with a goal of post-secondary completion for at least 80% of our students.
- On November 6th I lead a meeting of community college presidents with representatives from the Higher education Coordinating Commission (HECC) and the Oregon Department of Corrections, with the lofty goal of creating and delivering a state-wide curriculum in a limited number of high-demand program areas that can be started while still incarcerated and then completed at any of our 17 community colleges, establishing inmate internet access and State and Federal Financial Aid eligibility along the way.
- Later on that same day, I was invited to be a guest presenter at our Oregon Future Leaders Institute where I was able to talk with about 20 future community college leaders about the nature of that leadership they – and we – hope they can provide. This is a program of OCCA, directed by our friend Dr. Mary Spilde.
- On November 7th I had the distinct honor of introducing our own LBCC Board Chair, Jim Merryman, as this year’s recipient of the OCCA Howard Cherry Outstanding Trustee of the Year award. This award acknowledges that community college leadership is a team effort, including everyone and especially the Board Chair, and this year it recognizes the outstanding manner that Jim leads and serves us in this role.
- On November 8th I had the honor of being the closing keynote speaker at this year’s OCCA Annual Conference. My focus was similar to what I shared with the LBCC campus at our Fall In-Service, but went into more detail about how this work of a more inclusive and comprehensive education might look on our various campuses.
- In recognition of our important partnership with OSU and the many critical roles we play in our communities, on Nov 12th and 13th I was invited to participate in the interviews of the four finalists for the successor of Ed Ray as OSU’s next president. It was gratifying to see and be a part of this tangible evidence of our importance to OSU.
I want to wrap this up with an acknowledgment and well earned praise for how this “opportunity to lead” at LBCC extends far beyond what I have the privilege to do personally. So many faculty and staff – far more than I can list individually – are leading efforts here at LBCC and across our state. Leading our state in Guided Pathways, Open Educational Resources (OERs), Data and Decision-making (so much so that we actually DO the IR work for a number of other Oregon community colleges), Early Learning, CTE program development, Free Expression and Civil Discourse, innovative Marketing and Fundraising, Affordability, Diversity Inclusion and Equity, Innovation in the classroom, Effective Board leadership……. the list goes on and on. I am so very grateful for the many, many people here at LBCC who lead our college, our community, and our State, in so many wonderful ways!