40 aspiring community college presidents will participate in 2021-2022 Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship to Advance Student Success
PASADENA, Texas — The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program today announced that Van A. Wigginton, San Jacinto College Central Campus provost, is one of 40 leaders selected for the 2021-2022 class of the Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship, a highly selective leadership program selecting the next generation of community college presidents to transform institutions to achieve higher and more equitable levels of student success.
"I am incredibly honored and humbled to have been selected for this opportunity," said Wigginton, who began his career at San Jacinto College as a government professor in 1995. "I'm looking forward to working with educational leaders from across the country as we strive to promote student success as well as expand opportunities for the students and communities we serve."
The Rising Presidents Fellows will embark on the 10-month fellowship beginning in November 2021. Delivered in collaboration with the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative, the fellows will be mentored by esteemed current and former community college presidents who have achieved exceptional outcomes for students throughout their careers and will learn strategies to improve student outcomes in and after college, lead internal change, and create strong external partnerships with K-12 schools, four-year colleges, employers, and other partners.
"We are so proud of Van for having been selected to this prestigious program," said Dr. Laurel Williamson, San Jacinto College Deputy Chancellor and College President. "Van is an exceptional and visionary leader, who served the College as a faculty member, department chair, dean, and now provost. He is an inclusive leader who keeps students at the center of our mission. He is supportive and collaborative, and I know he will bring a great deal of knowledge and expertise to the Aspen Fellows program."
As provost, Wigginton has worked closely with local school districts to develop and expand dual credit offerings, providing high school students the opportunity to earn their associate degree while still in high school. He is active in supporting many local school district programs and has served on the statewide Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's Undergraduate Education Advisory Committee to help improve undergraduate education. He is a regent on the Texas Chiropractic College Board of Regents and has served in various leadership positions within the local rotary clubs and chambers of commerce. Wigginton holds a doctorate in jurisprudence from the University of Houston and a master's degree in public administration and a bachelor's degree in government — both from Lamar University.
The Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship responds to the growing need for a new generation of leaders well-equipped to meet the challenges of the future. Nationally, nearly 80% of sitting presidents plan to retire in the next decade. While the traditional pathway to the presidency has often excluded women and people of color, the incoming class of Aspen Rising Presidents Fellows is composed of 68% women and 70% people of color and represents institutions of varying sizes and locations.
"To become institutions that truly advance social mobility and talent development, community colleges must have presidents with a clear vision for equitable student success," said Monica Clark, director of leadership initiatives at the College Excellence Program. "We have selected these fellows because they share that commitment and are well-positioned to become transformational leaders."
Together, the 2021-22 fellows are leaders at colleges that collectively serve more than 400,000 students. As well, 67 Rising Presidents Fellowship alumni have become presidents of community colleges that collectively serve an additional 953,000 students nationwide.
"On behalf of the San Jacinto College Board of Trustees, we congratulate Van on this incredible honor and recognition," said Board Chair Marie Flickinger. "Van is a respected leader not only at San Jac but across our region and state. He is always thinking about what is best for our students, our employees, and our communities, and we know he will bring great insight to, and gain valuable knowledge from, the Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship."
2021-22 Aspen Rising Presidents Fellows
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, evolving industries, maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has served the people of East Harris County, Texas, since 1961. San Jacinto College is among the top five community colleges in the nation as designated by the Aspen Institute for Community College Excellence in 2021, and was named an Achieving the Dream Leader College of Distinction in 2020. The College spans five campuses serving approximately 45,000 credit and non-credit students annually, and offers more than 200 degrees and certificates across eight major areas of study that put students on a path to transfer to four-year institutions or enter the workforce. San Jacinto College's impact on the region totals $1.3 billion in added income, which supports 13,044 jobs. The College is fiscally sound, holding bond ratings of AA and Aa2 by Standard & Poor's and Moody's.
The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices and leadership strategies that significantly improve student outcomes. Through the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the Aspen Presidential Fellowship, and other initiatives, the College Excellence Program works to improve colleges' understanding and capacity to teach and graduate students, especially the growing population of students from low-income backgrounds and students of color on American campuses. For more information, visit highered.aspeninstitute.org and follow us on Twitter at @AspenHigherEd.
The Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative advances the critical cause of diversity, equity and inclusion in learning science and postsecondary education leadership. Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative's research practice partnership with the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program has enabled faculty from the Stanford Graduate Schools of Education, Business and Engineering to host and prepare 200 Aspen Presidential Fellows to lead U.S. community colleges for student success in graduation and preparation for workforce advancement. For more information, visit seli.stanford.edu.
The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners.