Special to The Collegian

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program today announced that Denise Douglas, Ph.D., Lorain County Community College’s dean of social sciences and human services, has been named to the prestigious Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship.

Douglas is one of 40 exceptional community college leaders in the country named to the highly selective leadership program that prepares the next generation of community college presidents to transform institutions to achieve higher and more equitable levels of student success.  In addition to her role as dean, Douglas also serves as co-chair of the LCCC Equity for Students Team.

Denise Douglas, Ph.D.

“I am honored to be selected for this prestigious fellowship and I am grateful for the support and mentorship of LCCC President, Dr. Marcia Ballinger,” Douglas said. “I am looking forward to engaging in this learning experience and bringing back what I learn to further advance our student success work at Lorain County Community College.”  

As Rising President Fellow, Douglas will complete a 10-month program that includes mentorships with current and former community college presidents, including current Ballinger, Ph.D., who completed the Rising Presidents Fellowship during as part of the program’s inaugural class in 2016.

“I am thrilled for Dr. Douglas to participate in this career-changing fellowship,” Ballinger said. “Dr. Douglas has an immense passion for the transformational work of community colleges. Through this fellowship, she will enhance her already exceptional skills, making her even more capable of leading deep cultural and institutional change with a focus on student success and equity.”

Prior to her role as dean at LCCC, Douglas worked for nearly 30 years in higher education, primarily at private universities, including Case Western Reserve University. She was drawn to the community college by the opportunity to connect with a system to more fundamentally meets her core value system, including fostering growth and opportunity for first-generation and under-resourced students.  Douglas lives in Avon.

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 percent 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 percent women and 70 percent people of color and represents institutions of varying sizes and locations.

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.