The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program has announced that Dr. Omid Pourzanjani, superintendent/president at Delta College, is one of 25 leaders selected for the 2021-22 class of the Aspen New Presidents Fellowship. This program supports community college presidents in the early years of their tenure as they aim to achieve higher and more equitable levels of student success. The Fellowship’s philanthropic partner is JPMorgan Chase.
The 25 Aspen Fellows, who lead colleges that collectively serve more than 280,000 students, were selected through a highly competitive process. Starting later this year, the Fellows will engage over nine months in residential sessions and virtual learning to develop strategies to meet their goals for student success and equity with data to assess challenges and progress.
“We continue to learn how the best community colleges improve outcomes for students and close persistent race- and income-based equity gaps,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the College Excellence Program. “This year’s fellows have demonstrated their commitment to achieving excellent and equitable student outcomes, and we are eager to work with them as they join Aspen’s network of more than 100 fellows who serve as community college presidents.”
“It is an absolute honor to be selected for the prestigious New Presidents Fellowship,” Dr. Pourzanjani said. “I want to thank the Aspen Institute, and all of my colleagues at Delta College, for this opportunity. It’s my hope that this fellowship will lead to new and innovative ideas to serve our students even better, which of course is the focus of everything that we do at Delta.”
As community colleges grapple with the impact of COVID and enrollment declines, turnover among presidents remains high. Aspen is committed to helping prepare the next generation of exceptionally capable and highly diverse leaders through its fellowship programs for new and rising presidents. This new class of Aspen Presidential Fellows is 52 percent female, and 64 percent are people of color. Located in 17 states, their institutions too are diverse, from a tribal college with fewer than 500 students to an urban college that educates more than 35,000 each year.
“Community colleges play a critical role in helping to prepare young adults and incumbent workers for in-demand jobs of the future,” said Monique Baptiste, Vice President and Head of Jobs & Skills for Global Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase. “Ensuring that the leaders of these institutions are equipped with the support and training they need to develop equitable student success is an integral part of building capacity over the long-run. JPMorgan Chase is proud to partner with the Aspen Institute to build the next generation of exceptional college leaders as they work to advance the prosperity of the diverse communities and students they serve.”
JPMorgan Chase’s philanthropic support for the Aspen Presidential Fellowship is part of the firm’s New Skills at Work initiative to prepare young people for the future of work and meet the growing demand for skilled workers, and the $30 billion commitment to advance racial equity and drive an inclusive economy.
Along with Dr. Pourzanjani, other California College Presidents selected include Seher Awan, Los Angeles Southwest College; Angélica Garcia, Berkeley City College; Stephanie Kashima, West Valley College; Ángel Reyna, Madera Community College; and Ricky Shabazz, San Diego City College (CA).