Release Date: 
Monday, February 10, 2020

President Kavalhuna selected for Aspen New Presidents Fellowship

Kavalhuna with Aspen Institute logo

HFC President Russell A. Kavalhuna has been selected by the Aspen Institute to join the 2020-21 inaugural class of the Aspen New Presidents Fellowship, a new initiative to support community college presidents in the early years of their tenure so they may accelerate transformational change on behalf of students.

President Kavalhuna is one of 25 Aspen Fellows selected from more than 100 applicants nationally, and is the only president from a Michigan college. The program is funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and is part of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. The leaders, all of whom are in their first five years as a college president, will engage in a seven-month fellowship beginning in June 2020.

The Aspen New Presidents Fellowship is designed to develop exceptional leaders who can transform community colleges to achieve higher levels of student success, while maintaining broad access. Drawing on the exemplary work of excellent community colleges, the Aspen Institute engages a select group of fellows each year in this intensive executive leadership program, delivered in collaboration with the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative.

“We know more than ever before about how community colleges can improve outcomes for students, both in and after college,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “And the urgency for them to do so only increases—especially for students of color and low-income students. These fellows have shown they are fully, urgently committed to excellence and equity, and we look forward to working alongside them.”

Nearly 80 percent of community college presidents nationwide plan to retire in the next decade. Through this fellowship and other leadership programs, Aspen is committed to helping to replace those exiting the presidency with an exceptionally capable and highly diverse talent pool. According to the American Council on Education, only 36 percent of community college presidents are female, and 20 percent are people of color. The incoming class of Aspen fellows is 48 percent female, and 40 percent people of color. Their institutions span 15 states and vary widely, from a rural college with fewer than 2,000 students to a statewide system that educates more than 150,000.

The full cohort of Fellows and their institutions is here.

Focus of the Fellowship

The year-long fellowship includes in-person residential seminars, as well as structured mentoring by experienced community college presidents and the development of a strategic leadership vision through a capstone project. The Aspen Presidential Fellowship centers on three broad themes:

  • Leading for Student Success: Defining and assessing student success in multiple domains: learning, completion, transfer and bachelor’s degree attainment, labor market, and equity in access and outcomes.
  • Leading Transformational Change: Transforming institutional culture and core practices to improve student success.
  • Partnering for Collective Action: Implementing new structures with external partners – including K-12 schools, universities, community-based organizations, and employers – to improve student success.

“I am excited to join with this national group of leaders to work on some of the most pressing issues we all face,” said Kavalhuna. “Our goal at Henry Ford College is to connect students to great careers and to support them in living successful lives. This Institute and this cohort of colleagues will be helpful to our College and to higher education itself as we continue working toward greater access and success for the students who enroll at our institutions.”

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is funding the Aspen Presidential Fellowship as part of New Skills at Work, a five-year, $350 million national investment to support community colleges and other pathways to great careers and economic mobility.