City College leader selected as Aspen Presidential Fellow
Vice President of Student Services Denise Whisenhunt of San Diego City College has been selected by the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program to join the 2019-20 class of the Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, a leadership program aimed at preparing the next generation of community college presidents to transform institutions to achieve higher and more equitable levels of student success, both in college and in the labor market.
“We at San Diego City College are so proud of Denise for being selected for this prestigious fellowship,” said Dr. Ricky Shabazz, president of San Diego City College. “Her passion for serving students and furthering our mission of providing access to higher education will only be enhanced from participating in the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program.”
Whisenhunt and the 39 other Aspen Presidential Fellows will embark on a 10-month fellowship beginning in July 2019. Delivered in collaboration with the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative, the fellows will work with mentors – current and former community college presidents – who have achieved exceptional outcomes for students throughout their careers. Fellows will also learn from national experts about ways to harness data to assess student success outcomes, strategies for internal change leadership, and how to create strong external partnerships with K-12 schools, four-year colleges, and employers.
The Aspen Presidential Fellowship responds to a specific and growing need for a new generation of leaders who are well-equipped to meet the challenges of the future. Nationally, nearly 80 percent of community college presidents plan to retire in the next decade. The pathway to replace them has traditionally excluded women and people of color. The incoming class of Aspen Presidential Fellows is 65 percent female and non-binary, 43 percent are people of color, and their institutions vary widely in size and location.
“Evidence shows that substantial improvements in student success are achieved only when presidents have the commitment and skill needed to lead change within their institutions and through partnerships in the community,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program. “These fellows have been chosen because they embody that commitment and, we believe, will build their skills even further to become transformational presidents.”
Whisenhunt was selected through a rigorous process that considered her abilities to take strategic risks, lead strong teams and cultivate partnerships, and focus on results-oriented improvements in student success and access.
The Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence is supported by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, College Futures Foundation, Greater Texas Foundation, JP Morgan Chase Foundation, Joyce Foundation, Kresge Foundation, and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.