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Dr DeAnna BurtThe Aspen Institute College Excellence Program today announced that DeAnna Burt, Vice President of Student and Academic Affairs at South Central College, is one of 40 leaders selected for the 2020-21 class of the Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship, a highly selected leadership program preparing the next generation of community college presidents to transform institutions to achieve higher and more equitable levels of student success.

The Rising Presidents Fellows will embark on a 10-month fellowship beginning in July 2020. 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.

“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 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.”

Burt, who holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Education Leadership, Research and Technology from Western Michigan University and has over 20 years of higher education experience, joined South Central College as Vice President of Student and Academic Affairs in 2018.

“The impact Dr. Burt has made since coming to South Central College points to her strong leadership aptitude and ability, which will be further enhanced through her participation in the Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship as she continues on a positive trajectory toward increasingly higher levels of educational leadership, said Annette Parker, president of South Central College.

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 excluded women and people of color, the incoming class of Aspen Rising Presidents Fellows is composed of 70 percent women and 61 percent people of color and represents institutions of varying sizes and locations.

Together, the 2020-21 fellows are leaders at colleges that collectively serve more than 500,000 students. As well, 42 Rising Presidents Fellowship alumni have become presidents of community colleges that collectively serve an additional 500,000 students nationwide.

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, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners.