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Dr. Sanjay Rai of Montgomery College Chosen for National Presidential Fellowship for Community College Leaders

40 Aspiring Community College Presidents Will Participate in 2021-2022 Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship to Advance Student Success

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program today announced that Dr. Sanjay Rai, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Montgomery College, is one of 40 leaders selected for the 2021-22 class of the Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship. This highly selective leadership program is preparing the next generation of community college presidents to transform institutions to achieve higher and more equitable levels of student success.

“The Aspen Rising President’s Fellowship is an extraordinary opportunity and I’m very pleased that MC’s Dr. Sanjay Rai has been accepted to this competitive program, “ said MC President DeRionne Pollard. “The program promotes many of the values that are central to the MC mission—diversity, inclusion, academic rigor, and visionary leadership—and I’m sure Dr. Rai will contribute much from his MC experience to his cohort ”

The Rising Presidents Fellows will embark on the 10-month fellowship beginning in November 2021. 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.

“To become institutions that truly advance social mobility and talent development, community colleges must have presidents with a clear vision for equitable student success,” said Monica Clark, director of leadership initiatives at the College Excellence Program. “We have selected these fellows because they share that commitment and are well-positioned to become transformational leaders.”

Dr. Rai said, “Montgomery College has been a leading institution in the nation in addressing the challenges caused by the pandemic, and continuing equity, social justice and issues of racism. Our efforts in addressing these issues and creating a homegrown talent pipeline for the increasing digital economy of our region is something that I look forward to sharing with other fellows and learning from their experiences, as well.”

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.

About Montgomery College
Montgomery College is a public, open admissions community college with campuses in Germantown, Rockville, and Takoma Park/Silver Spring, plus workforce development/continuing education centers and off-site programs throughout Montgomery County, Md. The College serves nearly 55,000 students a year, through both credit and noncredit programs, in more than 100 areas of study.

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

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