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Clark State President Dr. Jo Alice Blondin to Host College Presidents for Clark State Catalysts Series

Clark State President Dr. Jo Alice Blondin to Host College Presidents for Clark State Catalysts Series

November 6, 2019

Clark State Community College President Dr. Jo Alice Blondin will welcome the first of three special guests to the College for a new series: Clark State Catalysts. Clark State Catalysts is a leadership series with three sitting college presidents for the purpose of sharing their expertise with the wider college communities.

“The purpose is to highlight different leadership styles and show the diversity and excellence of leadership at community colleges across the country,” said Blondin. “They are meeting with internal audiences, such as the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, students, and SOAR (Serving Our Own through Leadership) members.”

The theme of this year’s event is: Leadership for Student Success.

Dr. Merrill Irving, Jr., president of Hennepin Technical College, will be on campus November 18 and 19 to discuss equity in student outcomes and diversity and inclusivity for the Board of Trustees and employees. Blondin said he was selected for his peerless leadership on equity and diversity.

President and CEO of Jackson College Dr. Dan Phelan will be on campus January 21, 2020, to discuss leading change and innovation for student success. Blondin invited Phelan to visit because his book, Unrelenting Change, was the Clark State Book Club selection last year. “We were impressed by the probity of his thoughts regarding innovation in higher education,” she said.

Dr. Beverly Walker-Griffea, president of Mott Community College, will be on campus April 15, 2020, for the college’s Town Hall meeting to discuss critical leadership competencies in crisis situations

“Dr. Walker-Griffea demonstrates her strengths as a leader who has overcome a significant crisis during her tenure (the Flint Water Crisis), and how she has led change on both her campus and in the community,” said Blondin.

Dr. Merrill Irving, Jr., President of Hennepin Tech
Topic: The difference between Equity and equality

Dr. Merrill Irving, Jr. is a visionary leader with an accomplished record of serving diverse learning communities championing underserved and nontraditional students. He became the fourth president of Hennepin Technical College on July 1, 2015. Dr. Irving oversees the college’s mission of providing excellence in career and technical education for employment and advancement.

Dr. Irving regularly presents at local and national events on such topics as career and technical education, creating pathways from college to career and higher education excellence and access. The Minnesota State College Student Association (LeadMN) named him the 2017 President of the Year.

His national roles include the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Board of Directors, chair of the Commission on Public Relations Advocacy and Advancement and former chair of the Commission on Economic and Workforce Development. In addition, he was recently appointed to the Task Force on Community College Apprenticeships by the president of AACC.  Other national roles include serving as a peer reviewer for the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the President’s Round Table (PRT), an affiliate of the National Council of Black American Affairs (NCBAA) and LGBTQ Presidents and Chancellors in Higher Education. 

Dr. Irving earned a bachelor’s and master’s of public administration from West Virginia University. He also holds a Doctorate of Education in psychology from the University of Southern California.

Dr. Dan Phelan, President and CEO of Jackson College
Topic: Leading Change and Innovation for Student Success

Dr. Daniel J. Phelan has been president/CEO of Jackson College (MI) since early 2001. He is the past-chairman of the Board of Directors for the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and also serves on the AACC Advocacy Advisory Group (AAG), as well as AACC’s Commission on Institutional Infrastructure and Transformation. He is chairman of the Board of the Higher Education Research and Development Institute (HERDI) and chairman of the Board of the Jackson County Enterprise Group (the community economic development organization). Additionally, Phelan serves on the Board of Directors for the Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE), the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society (PTK) and is a founding Board member for the international organization, US-Brasil Connect (USBC). Phelan is past chair of the Alliance for Innovation and Transformation (formerly CQIN) Board of Directors and past chair of the Michigan Community College Association (MCCA) Board of Directors. He also served on the American Association of Community College’s (AACC) 21st-Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges, co-chairing a team charged with redefining the community college role and mission.

Continuous innovation, quality, service and vision for an improved future of student success have continued to define Phelan’s contribution to the community college movement. He has led the redefinition of Jackson College’s culture with the creation of a Total Commitment to Student Success (TCS2). He is a regular national presenter and author of numerous professional articles, monographs and essays which have appeared in various books and publications including New Directions in the Community College, the Community College Journal of Research and Practice, the Journal of Applied Research in the Community College and the Community College Journal.

His book, Unrelenting Change, Innovation, and Risk: Forging the Next Generation of Community Colleges was published in 2016 by Rowman and Littlefield. He is currently writing a second book on community college board governance. Phelan’s discipline is business administration and higher education administration. He holds a Ph.D. in higher education administration from Iowa State University, an M.B.A. from St. Ambrose University and both an B.A. in business administration and an A.A. degree in liberal arts from Mount St. Clare College. He has been honored for his work in higher education and community service including the Continuous Quality Improvement Network’s (CQIN) Legacy Award, the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) CEO of the Year Award for the Central Region, the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) International Honor Society’s Shirley B. Gordon Award of Distinction, the Iowa State University Alumni Award and the Boy Scouts of America’s Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award for the Great Sauk Trail Council.

Dr. Beverly Walker-Griffea, President of Mott Community College
Topic: Critical Leadership Competencies in Crisis Situations

Dr. Beverly Walker-Griffea became the seventh president of Mott Community College (Flint, Michigan) in August 2014. Mott Community College has a legacy of student success and academic excellence that Dr. Walker-Griffea is proud to join. Recently under her leadership, Mott Community College was once again selected by the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program as one of the nation’s top community colleges.

Walker-Griffea has been a long-time advocate for collegiate student success, serving community college students in various capacities for more than 20 years. Dr. Beverly, as she prefers to be called, has a passion for ensuring all students have access to quality, affordable and effective learning experiences. She chose to share her talents with community college institutions because of her deep connection to the community college mission and commitment to meet the academic, training and lifelong learning needs of communities by educating all citizens that desire to learn. She believes community colleges must support the local community’s economic viability by preparing a skilled and successful workforce.

Since joining Mott Community College, Dr. Beverly has worked together with the MCC family of faculty, staff, administrators and students to chart the college’s preferred future which is “Mott Strong.” Together MCC has established new programming, created structured student completion pathways, reduced potential enrollment and retention barriers, revamped the College website, improved and remodeled facilities and continues to foster a safe and healthy college environment. Under Dr. Beverly’s tenure, Mott Community College has maintained the legacy of serving Flint and Genesee County as a stable foundation, anchor for the region and a safe haven for MCC students.

Prior to joining the MCC family, Dr. Walker-Griffea served as senior vice president for student services at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland, vice president of student affairs at Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, Virginia; dean of student development at Houston Community College-Central Campus; and interim dean of health and environmental sciences at Spokane Community College. Additionally, while at Spokane Community College, Dr. Beverly earned tenure in three years as a counseling faculty member leading the award-winning Single-Parent Program and served as chair for the Institutional Diversity Department.

Service is important to Dr. Beverly. She serves nationally as the immediate past president for the American Association for Women in Community Colleges and as a member of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Board of Directors, as well as chair of AACC’s Commission on College Readiness. She also chairs the Oklahoma State University Division of Institutional Diversity, Advisory Council.

Locally, she serves on the Board of Directors for the Greater Flint Health Coalition, McLaren-Flint Hospital, Carriage Town Ministries, Metro Community Development, Michigan Community College Association (MCCA), and is President of The Ivy House. In addition, Dr. Beverly is a member of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce Regional Leadership Council. She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Flint Rotary Club and the Flint Chapter of the NAACP.

Dr. Beverly is the first female and first African American president in Mott Community College’s history. She is committed to academic excellence, student access and success, dynamic industry partnerships, and significantly impacting local economies. A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, she holds a Doctor of Philosophy in child development from Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas, a Master of Education in guidance and counseling from Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia, and a Bachelor of Science in radio, television and film: news and public affairs from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

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