Two leaders from Clark State Community College have graduated as fellows of the first Ohio Leadership Academy for Student Success.
Crystal Jones, assistant dean of business and applied technologies, and Dr. Melinda Mohler, associate professor of history, were among more than 40 leaders representing all of Ohio’s community colleges that graduated October 2, 2020, as part of the academy. The academy was organized by the Ohio Association of Community Colleges (OACC). It is the first of its kind in the nation to gather mid-level administrators, faculty and staff for a year of training, exchanging ideas and immersion in how to promote student success.
“The fellows learned how to more effectively lead the many changes underway at our colleges – transformational changes – to improve student success,” said Laura Rittner, executive director of the OACC’s Success Center for Ohio Community Colleges. “We brought together people who have different roles at colleges so they could have a deeper understanding of how college leaders 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.
“This experience combined with support from Clark State and OACC has allowed me to extend my professional network, gain a greater understanding of leadership in higher education, and knowledge of how to support student success from multiple perspectives,” said Jones. “As an assistant dean, this training has guided me through current projects, how to promote innovation and encouraged me to be a change agent by becoming familiar with best practices. This aligns with the college’s strategic plan and my personal passion for diversity and inclusion. I am confident, knowledgeable and prepared as a result of my experience.”
The academy was 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 some sessions can be held in person.
“I am so grateful to have participated in the 2019-2020 Leadership Academy,” said Mohler. “Every aspect of the experience, from the training sessions and professional panels to our year-long team project, provided me with a more comprehensive view of what it takes to be a leader at all levels of an academic institution. I was able to better define my career goals because of the academy.”
The OACC represents the presidents and trustees of the state’s 23 public two-year institutions that work to advance community colleges through policy advocacy and professional development. For more information, please visit www.OhioCommunityColleges.Org.