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For immediate release — Oct. 6, 2008

(DALLAS) — The number of college presidents in the United States is dwindling rapidly across the country as aging leaders approach retirement without successors. Cultivating a new cadre of college presidents is critical; with that fact in mind, a group of African-American college presidents and chancellors are passing forward their knowledge to a new generation of leaders through the Thomas Lakin Institute for Mentored Leadership.

More than 25 percent of the current African-American community of college presidents comprise alumni of the Lakin Institute, and they will join colleagues from across the country in Dallas from Oct. 19-24, 2008, for a national meeting that will focus on “Mentoring African-American Future Leaders in Education”; the organization also has begun a national project to ensure that African-American males in high school graduate and go to college.

Hosted by the Dallas County Community College District, the institute will welcome the class of 2008 — a dozen mentees from community colleges across the country — whose members will meet with and learn from their mentors. 

Dr. Andrew Jones, executive vice chancellor for educational affairs at DCCCD, is coordinating the institute. He said, “We want to provide the next generation of African-American leaders in higher education with the knowledge, tools and skills that they will need to succeed. We are excited to welcome 12 outstanding individuals who place students and higher education at the top of their list of priorities.”

Aspiring leaders were admitted competitively to the class of 2008, which comprises:

  • Dr. Joy Black, vice president of student success and enrollment management, Eastfield College (Texas/DCCCD);
  • Dr. Conferlete Carney, vice president of information systems, St. Petersburg College (Fla.);
  • Arnel Cosey, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and provost, Delgado Community College/City Park campus (La.);
  • Dr. Yasmin Delahoussaye, vice president of student services, Los Angeles Valley Community College (Calif.);
  • Dr. Deborah Fontaine, special assistant to the president for institutional effectiveness, Thomas Nelson Community College (Va.);
  • Vernon Hawkins, associate vice president for workforce and continuing education, Mountain View College (Texas/DCCCD);
  • Zena Jackson, executive dean of liberal arts, North Lake College (Texas/DCCCD);
  • Dr. Kevin Jones, assistant dean of academic affairs and external affairs, Ivy Tech Community College (Ind.);
  • Dr. Jamillah Moore, president, Los Angeles City College (Calif.);
  • Kim Rugon, provost and dean, Delgado Community College/Louisiana Technical College, Region 1 (La.);
  • Dr. Frederico “F.J.” Talley, vice president and dean, College of Southern Maryland/Leonardtown campus (Md.); and
  • Mellissa Zanjani, vice president of institutional advancement and foundation executive director, Tacoma Community College (Wash.).

“The Lakin Institute honors the memory of the distinguished African-American educator Dr. Thomas Lakin, who served as chancellor of the Ventura County Community College District and who is warmly remembered as a mentor who inspired and encouraged dozens of promising leaders of color,” added Jones.

Courses that the 12 higher education leaders will take include: the politics of leadership; working with boards and chancellors; the CEO’s role in civic and global engagement; preparing for the application and interview process for the community college CEO position; and accreditation and the presidency.

The group will visit several area colleges to learn more about administration and leadership, including DCCCD’s Brookhaven College; Tarrant County College/South Campus; and Trinity River College.

The Thomas Lakin Institute for Mentored Leadership, sponsored by the Presidents’ Round Table of the National Council on Black American Affairs (affiliated with the American Association of Community Colleges), held its first weeklong leadership program in 1994. The institute is designed for African-American administrators who aspire to become community college presidents. It provides the opportunity for mentees to participate in interactive sessions on a variety of topics that pertain to the presidency; to expand their professional network; and to establish mentoring relationships. 

The institute’s faculty includes current and former community college CEOs, as well as board members from both AACC and the Association of Community College Trustees.

For more information, contact Jones at (214) 860-2129.

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Press contact: Ann Hatch