Chandler-Gilbert Community College President Greg Peterson was selected for the inaugural class of a fellowship supporting newcomers to the role he holds.
Peterson and Phoenix College President Larry Johnson were named to the Aspen Institute’s New Presidents Fellowship, a new initiative designed to support community college presidents in the early years of their tenure to accelerate transformational change on behalf of students.
Peterson, one of 25 presidents selected from a field of 100 applicants, will engage in a seven-month fellowship beginning in June.
Calling Johnson and Peterson “innovators and champions for our students,” Dr. Steven Gonzales, Maricopa Community College District interim chancellor, hailed the selection as a recognition of “their commitment to the success of our students.”
The Aspen Institute said selections were based on the candidates’ “commitment to student success and equity, willingness to take risks to improve outcomes, understanding of the importance of community partnerships and ability to lead change.”
The fellowship’s ultimate goal is to “improve outcomes for students, both in and after college,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program.
“And the urgency for them to do so only increases – especially for students of color and low-income students,” Wyner said. “These fellows have shown they are fully, urgently committed to excellence and equity, and we look forward to working alongside them.”
Aspen said it is “committed to helping to replace those exiting the presidency with an exceptionally capable and highly diverse talent pool.”
According to the American Council on Education, only 36 percent of community college presidents are female and 20 percent are people of color.
The incoming class of Aspen fellows is 48 percent female, and 40 percent are people of color.
“By preparing students and workers for in-demand jobs and meeting the training needs of businesses, community colleges are critical institutions for their regions’ prosperity and development,” said Jennie Sparandara, head of workforce initiatives for JPMorgan Chase, which is funding the fellowship program.
Prior to his appointment as Chandler-Gilbert Community College president in April 2018, Peterson oversaw all instructional programs for over 16,000 students at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, California.
He also worked at Long Beach City College, where he oversaw all student services at two comprehensive campuses serving 30,000 students annually.
Peterson oversaw the nationally recognized Promise Pathways assessment program essentially aiming to improve completion rates for community college students.
He holds a doctorate in educational administration with an emphasis in community college leadership from the University of Texas at Austin.
His first roles in community college were as a classified staff member in Portland Community College’s Food Stamp Workforce Program and as an instructor in English as a second language classes.