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Iowa State Conference To Focus On Community College Leadership

Filling the leadership voids created by the mass retirements of a generation of baby boomer presidents is the focus of a conference hosted by Iowa State University next week. Faculty from ISU’s Community College Leadership Program have organized the “Education Practice in Leadership: Transforming Community Colleges Conference,” which will be held in Kansas City, Mo., Oct. 28-30.

Numerous conference sessions will touch on themes of diversity, as ISU College of Human Sciences spokesperson Cathy Curtis says community colleges are a key resource for ISU to boost not only the diversity of ISU students, but Iowa as a whole.

“We consider community colleges an integral part of the higher education package, they are as important to the four-year schools as they are to each state’s economies,” Curtis says.

“Community colleges are a real opportunity to increase diversity in higher education because they’re more accessible, they’re more affordable, and many of our students of color start college at community colleges. So they provide great opportunities for diversifying our professions,” she adds.

According to Dr. Larry Ebbers, university professor of higher education in ISU’s department of educational leadership and policy studies, the conference has registered about 250 community college leaders from across the nation, including officials from all 15 Iowa community colleges, as well as a numerous officials from neighboring midwestern states.

Some of these attendees have graduated from ISU’s Leadership Institute for a New Century and Community College Leadership Initiative Consortium programs, which Ebbers founded.

“We know that half of community college presidents are going to retire within the next three years. Our role is to help prepare the next generation of leaders,” Ebbers says. “Through this conference, we’re trying to establish Iowa State as the institution in the Midwest that’s responsible for community college leadership,” he adds.

Conference sessions will address key community college leadership issues such as undocumented students, using research to inform best-policy practices, accountability in higher education and diversity and social justice. For more information and a complete conference program, visit

–David Pluviose


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