In partnership with WCET and the Western Academic Leadership Forum
Community colleges across the nation are experiencing similar challenges: decreased enrollments, state funding challenges, and streamlining pathways for degree attainment and transfer. In this upcoming webinar, presidents from several community colleges in Colorado will share how they are responding to these challenges and promising practices the state is using to provide credit and remove barriers for its students.
WCET Executive Council, President, Community College of Aurora
One of the youngest presidents in the country at 37 years old, Dr. Mordecai Ian Brownlee became the sixth president of the Community College of Aurora (Colorado) on August 2, 2021. With campuses in Aurora and Denver, CCA is a Minority Serving Institution (MSI) and Hispanic-Serving institution (HSI) providing instruction to over 10,600 students throughout its service area. Prior to his presidential appointment, Mordecai served as the vice president for student success at St. Philip’s College, where he led the college to record enrollment of over 13,500 students and its four largest degree and certificate awarding classes in its 124-year history.
President, Community College of Denver
Marielena DeSanctis commenced her tenure as president of the Community College of Denver on January 15, 2021. An educator and administrator for over 20 years, she has served in many roles in the K-12 and higher education sectors and also brings with her nearly six years of experience as an engineer in private industry. Marielena currently serves as a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Board on Higher Education and the Workforce; a member of Jobs for the Future Policy Trust Council; on the Workforce Development Committee of Downtown Denver Partnership; and as a board member of the Colorado Education Initiative. She is a graduate of the Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, and Leadership Florida. She received the 2016 Hispanic Woman of Distinction among other honors.
President, Trinidad State College
Rhonda M. Epper, Ph.D., is the president of Trinidad State College, based in Southern Colorado with campuses in Trinidad and Alamosa. Previously, she was the provost/vice president for academic affairs at Community College of Denver. Rhonda has held roles at the Colorado Department of Higher Education, WICHE, the Colorado Community College System, and the California State University, office of the Chancellor. She has been a fellow of the Aspen Institute’s Presidential Fellows program and the EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research, as well as recipient of the WCET Jonson lifetime achievement award.
President, Arapahoe Community College
Stephanie Fujii serves as the president of Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, Colorado. She is a passionate, outcomes-oriented, community college leader with over 30 years higher education experience in student services, instruction, and workforce/career and technical education. Prior to moving to administration, Stephanie was tenured faculty, division chair, and faculty senate president. Her past administrative experience includes service as a system/district level director leading and facilitating instructional support services and programs between ten colleges, a college instructional workforce dean, and a vice president of academic affairs.
Students from the WICHE region will share their reasons for attending community colleges, how community college has helped them and their communities, and why community colleges are important to the future of higher education.
Moderator: Landon Pirius, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Colorado Community College System
Panelists: Gerardo Chavez, student, Riverside City College; Kat Marty, student, Northeast Junior College; Hsa Kapru Say, student, Lake Area Technical College
Alliance Executive Committee, Colorado Community College System
Landon K. Pirius is the vice chancellor for academic and student affairs for the Colorado Community College System (CCCS). At CCCS, Pirius provides strategic leadership for all aspects of academic affairs, student affairs, online education, workforce development, and institutional research. Prior to his current position, he was the vice president for academic and student affairs at North Hennepin Community College. Pirius also served in a variety of leadership roles at Inver Hills Community College, Minnesota State University, Mankato, and Walden University, and as an adjunct faculty member. He completed his B.A. in Russian studies and environmental studies from Gustavus Adolphus College, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in educational policy and administration from the University of Minnesota.
Student, Riverside City College
Student, Northeastern Junior College
Student, Lake Area Technical College
The pandemic has amplified the need for institutions to work together to increase student success and degree completion. Join us to hear from officers at California Virtual Campus, Idaho State Board of Education, and Montana University System regarding their state institutional course-sharing efforts to increase access, improve retention, and aid students to complete their degrees on time.
Moderator: Brock Tessman, Deputy Commissioner, Academic & Student Affairs, Montana University System
Panelists: Jay Field, Senior Vice President for Institutional Partnerships, Quottly; Jory Hadsell, Executive Director, California Virtual Campus; Jonathan Lashley, Associate Chief Academic Officer, Idaho State Board of Education; Joe Thiel, Director of Academic Policy and Research, Montana University System
Jay Field has served as senior vice president for institutional partnerships at Quottly, Inc. since 2019. He works with various colleges and universities to help them improve graduation rates through course-sharing and advanced transfer articulation. Previously, he served as chief technology officer for the California Virtual Campus-Online Education Initiative and as chief information officer for three California community colleges prior to that. Field has a B.A. in urban studies and an M.A. in education, both from Stanford University.
California Virtual Campus
Jory Hadsell serves as executive director of the California Virtual Campus, a state-wide initiative expanding online learning access, infrastructure, and professional development for California’s 116 community colleges. Hadsell has also served as tenured professor of academic technology and taught in adjunct roles at the community college and doctoral level. He is passionate about the intersection of online education, technology personalization, and cross-institutional collaboration. Hadsell currently serves as vice chair of the WCET Steering Committee.
Idaho State Board of Education
Jonathan Lashley is associate chief academic officer for the Idaho State Board of Education. He promotes excellence in open and distributed learning as he coordinates the development and implementation of academic policy at Idaho’s eight public colleges and universities. He also leads a statewide digital learning consortium, Online Idaho, that utilizes course sharing as a means of furthering student success, faculty learning, and digital pedagogy. Lashley has nearly 14 years of experience in various higher education roles across the United States.
Montana University System