DCCC Leader Selected As One of Only 40 Nationwide for 2018-2019 Aspen Presidential Fellowship For Community College Excellence

May 16, 2018 – Vice President of Student Success and Communications Susan Burleson of Davidson County Community College has been awarded the prestigious Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, a leadership program aimed at preparing the next generation of community college presidents to transform institutions across the nation to help students be more successful both in college and in the workforce. 

The fellowship is awarded by the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program, an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C. that aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes. 

“Susan’s leadership skills, commitment to student success, and dedication to helping create an equitable learning environment are all qualities that make her an ideal candidate for the Aspen Presidential Fellowship,” said DCCC President Mary Rittling.  

Burleson and the 39 other Aspen Presidential Fellows will embark on a 10-month fellowship beginning in July 2018. Delivered in collaboration with the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative, the Fellows will be mentored by community college leaders who have had outstanding results for their students, learn from national experts about ways to use data to make their students more successful, and learn how to create strong external partnerships with K-12 schools, four-year colleges, and employers in their community.

The Aspen Fellowship responds to a growing need for a new generation of leaders who are well-equipped to meet the challenges facing community colleges:

  • Nationally, nearly 80 percent of sitting presidents plan to retire in the next decade.
  • Traditionally, the path to college presidency has excluded women and people of color: Currently, 71 percent of sitting community college presidents are white and 64 percent are male.
  • The incoming class of Aspen Presidential Fellows is composed of 65 percent women, 43 percent people of color and represents institutions of varying size and geographical spread.

Burleson was selected through a rigorous process that considered her abilities to take strategic risks, lead strong teams and cultivate partnerships, and focus on results-oriented improvements in student success and access.

With the average community college enrolling about 14,000 students, each Fellow who becomes a president has an opportunity to improve outcomes for hundreds of thousands of students over his or her career. To date, 22 Aspen Presidential Fellows are now sitting community college presidents at institutions that collectively serve more than 300,000 students nationwide.

The Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence is supported by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, College Futures Foundation, ECMC Foundation, Greater Texas Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 

Photo Caption:

Vice President of Student Success and Communications Susan Burleson 

About Davidson County Community College:       

Founded in 1963, Davidson County Community College is a fully accredited, multi-campus college where students of all ages and backgrounds pursue academic and career-focused education in order to build successful futures. As one of 58 institutions within the North Carolina Community College System, DCCC offers more than 40 degree and professional certificate programs to students in Davidson and Davie counties, as well as affordable college-credit coursework to students who plan to transfer to 4-year universities. With a mission to serve the changing needs of students competing in a global environment, DCCC is committed to quality education, innovative and equitable learning experiences, training, and support across a wide range of 21st-century career fields. Visit Davidson County Community College at DavidsonCCC.edu.