2017 Most Promising Places to Work in Community Colleges

Each year, Diverse: Issues In Higher Education spotlights the Most Promising Places to Work in Community Colleges. We take a closer look at the 11 institutions that made this year’s list.

Institution Chief Executive Officer Location Control Level Student Population
Blinn College Dr. Mary Hensley Brenham, TX Public 2-Year 10,033
El Centro College Dr. Jose Adames Dallas, TX Public 2-Year 10,549
Montgomery County Community College Dr. James Pollack Blue Bell, PA Public 2-Year 12,805
Mountain View College Dr. Robert Garza Dallas, TX Public 2-Year 8,950
Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology Dr. Bill Path Okmulgee, OK Public 4-Year 3,379
Pierpont Community and Technical College Dr. Dale Bradley Fairmont, WV Public 2-Year 2,311
Seward County Community College Dr. Kenneth J. Trzaska Liberal, KS Public 2-Year 1,852
South Florida State College Dr. Thomas C. Leitzel Avon Park, FL Public 4-Year 2,780
Southwest Virginia Community College Dr. J. Mark Estepp Richards, VA Public 2-Year 2,546
Stella and Charles Guttman Community Dr. Scott E. Evenbeck New York, NY Public 2-Year 700
Tallahassee Community College Dr. Jim Murdaugh Tallahassee, FL Public 2-Year 13,049

About the Study

This study was first commissioned by the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) and Diverse: Issues In Higher Education in 2014. The purpose of this commissioned study was to examine the extent to which diversity and inclusion permeates various aspects (e.g., administrative structures, commitments, work
environments, staffing practices) of the work places at participating twoyear community and technical colleges, all of which are NISOD-member institutions.

This survey was developed by Dr. Terrell Strayhorn, in consultation with members of the project’s advisory board. The larger project, Promising Places to Work, has been administered by Strayhorn and his teams at various centers at Ohio State University. It is now administered by his team at Do Good Work Educational Consulting LLC—an independent educational consulting firm committed to inclusive excellence, student access and success.

Project Team Biographies

Dr. Terrell Lamont Strayhorn (principal investigator) is a professor of higher education at Ohio State University. He is also founder/CEO of Do Good Work Educational Consulting. Author of 10 books, more than 100 articles and book chapters, hundreds of papers at international and national conferences and more than 500 keynotes, Strayhorn is an internationally known student success expert and public speaker, who was named an Emerging Scholar in his
field by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education in 2011.

Dr. Royel M. Johnson (co-principal investigator) is assistant professor of higher education at Pennsylvania State University within the Department of Educational Policy Studies, starting fall 2017. His research focuses on
major policy- and practice-relevant issues in education such as: college access and success; race, equity and diversity; and student learning and development. He is co-editor of a forthcoming book on historically Black
colleges and universities and has published dozens of journal articles, book chapters and other academic publications.

Most Promising Places to Work in Community Colleges takes a holistic look at those institutions that create promising places for faculty and staff who work to support students to their success.


As the Most Promising Places to Work in Community Colleges project evolves, we learn more and more about what’s going on at various institutions to increase faculty and staff diversity, to foster staff sense of belonging and to equip college student educators for their work with students. Presented here is a set of “promising practices”
that have held up across each year of the study.

Promising Practice #1:

Recognition of Good Work

Each year, we hear from faculty and staff who work at community colleges about the importance of good work being recognized, especially by those in leadership positions. Specifically, institutions recognized as Most Promising Places over the past three years have been known for hosting formal ceremonies that recognize the meaningful contributions of various members of the campus community. Quite often, faculty and staff described this practice as
a positive feature of institutional culture that was beneficial to their retention as well as their colleagues’. In addition to institutional awards and ceremonies, many faculty and staff noted that their campus leadership also nominated them for regional and national awards, honors and recognitions. We encourage community college leaders to
adopt similar practices or approaches to recognizing the good work of staff and members of the campus community.

Promising Practice #2:

Commitment to Meeting the Needs of Community

The espoused mission of community colleges includes a clear focus on serving the needs of the local community. Thus, it is no surprise that faculty and staff at institutions designated as Most Promising Places underscored the importance of their institutions living up to this responsibility. Over the years, faculty and staff have consistently shared insights about their institution’s connection to, service of and appreciation for the communities in which they’re located. For instance, Southwest Virginia Community College (SVCC) provides “support to the business community through ‘rapid responses’ when there are training needs for new or expanding businesses” through their Small Business Development Center and Procurement Technical Assistance Center. As staff indicated, “If new needs arise in our service area, the community never doubts SVCC’s ability to provide education and training.” It is important for all community colleges to truly be members of their local communities, serving theneeds of the people.

Promising Practice #3:

Investment in the Development of Faculty and Staff

Institutions represented among our Most Promising Places over the years have prioritized signifi cant investment in the professional development of faculty and staff to better prepare them for leadership within the organization and broader community. Faculty and staff at institutions recognized as Most Promising Places over the years have
discussed at length the ways in which their institutions have signaled commitment to them by investing in their professional development. For instance, at Montgomery County Community College (MCCC), faculty and staff highlighted the Faculty Diversity Fellows program for junior minority faculty and the President’s Leadership Academy
for staff members considered “rising leaders” within the institution. Likewise, Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology (OSUIT) staff members found that there were always resources available to support their pursuit of professional development on and off campus, including book clubs, conference attendance, webinars and oncampus
leadership training seminars. We encourage senior leaders at community colleges to make concerted investments in formal professional development activities for faculty and staff ; this is a promising practice at work in Most Promising Places.