Morgan State Expands Community College Leadership Program Via Online

When Morgan State University began offering its community college leadership doctoral program online this fall, it joined a crowded field of institutions offering terminal degrees to future leaders of two-year institutions.

Given its record of success in graduating minority leaders, the online expansion of Morgan State’s Community College Leadership Doctoral Program will likely strengthen the pipeline of minority administrators ready to fill an expected leadership gap at schools serving a disproportionate number of African-American and Latino students.

CCLDP is situated to ensure that “the pipeline gap gets narrowed by us so when people say, ‘We can’t hire that person, we can’t hire Blacks or we can’t hire any Latinos or women as our senior staff at these community colleges because they just aren’t coming through the pipeline,’ we (can) debunk that myth,” says Dr. Rosemary Gillett-Karam, CCLDP director and an associate professor of higher education at Morgan State and the former president of Louisburg College in Louisburg, N.C. 

Founded by Dr. Christine Johnson McPhail, an emerita professor at Morgan State who this year received the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) National Leadership Award, CCLDP has graduated 91 percent of its students — 75 percent of whom are African-American.  When CCLDP was established in 1998, it was the only one of its kind offered by a historically Black institution and in Maryland, although there is another program in the state now.

CCLDP’s expansion online may prove vital in addressing some of the problems projected by a 2008 Iowa State University study predicting a dearth of leaders needed to replace retiring Baby Boomers. In a survey of 415 community college presidents, nearly 80 percent said they would retire by 2012.

While America’s 1,200 community colleges enroll nearly half of its undergraduates and a disproportionate number of minorities, people of color are largely missing from the leadership ranks. According to AACC, African-Americans and Latinos account for 8 and 6 percent, respectively, of school executives. In addition, just 28 percent of community college executives are women.

The issue of finding competent community college leaders is likely to magnify in the future based on the expanded role community colleges will play in the Obama administration’s educational agenda.

“We think in the neighborhood of 30,000 (executive, administrative and teaching) positions will become vacant over the next decade, so programs such as (ours) in community college leadership are very critical in meeting that need in a significant way,” says Dr. Calvin Woodland, a CCLDP faculty member and former president of Capital Community College in Hartford, Conn. “This program represents a response to the pending opportunities for advancement, but, more importantly, we will have a cadre of students of color and women coming through this program to meet that need.”

Dr. John Roueche, director of the University of Texas at Austin’s Community College Leadership Program, the nation’s oldest doctoral program for producing community college leaders, lauds Morgan State’s program and its expansion.

“I think Morgan has done a great job. Certainly all the students I’ve met from Morgan State have been outstanding. I know (its) graduates are getting good jobs and performing well,” Roueche says.

Like Morgan State’s, UT-Austin’s Ed.D program is a cohort model that admits a group of 12 to 15 students annually and prepares them for leadership through activities that include bringing present community college administrators into the classroom and sending students to visit and evaluate two-year colleges. Roueche’s program has produced more than 600 leaders since its inception in 1944 but is not offered online.

With the addition of its online program, CCLDP has already doubled its enrollment to about 160 students “without any great advertising,” says Gillett-Karam.

CCLDP’s online version emerged after it faced down a challenge from the University of Maryland University College, which sought to offer a similar program in violation of a civil rights precedent that precludes unnecessary duplication of programs by traditionally White and historically Black institutions. In 2009, the Maryland Higher Education Commission barred UMUC from offering the same program to state residents.

Lezli Baskerville, president and CEO of the National Association For Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, says Morgan State’s example shows historically Black institutions continue to meet educational challenges in the country. “This is an innovative initiative that we need to meet the need for increasingly skilled, diverse leadership in our community colleges, and we’ll need a number of similar programs in order to position ourselves as a community to play a significant role in reaching the 2020 goal of having 60 percent of Americans to have a two- or four-year degree.”