Wallace State’s Suzanne Harbin selected for Aspen Institute’s Rising Presidents Fellowship

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Suzanne Harbin (Wallace State)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program (Aspen) announced recently that Suzanne Harbin, vice president of advancement and innovation at Wallace State Community College, is one of 40 leaders selected for the 2024-25 Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship. Applying lessons from over a dozen years researching exceptional community colleges, the Aspen fellowship aims to select and prepare the next generation of presidents who can lead institutions to higher and more equitable levels of student success.

Many sitting community college presidents plan to retire in the next decade, creating an opportunity for college trustees and system heads to select leaders who have the skills and knowledge to achieve better outcomes for students. Aspen Presidential Fellows represent the next generation of college leadership: this incoming class of Aspen Rising Presidents Fellows is 58 percent women, and 55 percent are people of color. The institutions they represent are also diverse, located in 20 states, from small rural colleges to large urban campuses. The fellows, selected through a competitive process, will work closely with highly accomplished community college presidents and thought leaders over 10 months to learn from field-leading research, examine demographic and labor market conditions in their communities, assess student outcomes at their colleges, and advance a clear vision for excellent and equitable outcomes for students while in college and after they graduate. 

“With so many community college presidents taking or nearing retirement, Aspen has a heightened sense of urgency to develop new leaders who are committed to systemic change,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the College Excellence Program. “Community colleges have a unique opportunity to advance the talent communities need and enable the economic mobility that draws so many students to higher education. I am confident that these fellows can realize that promise—and in turn advance the entire field—by taking the lessons from the highest performing colleges and preparing to bring those lessons to their first presidencies.” 

“Wallace State is proud to have Suzanne Harbin represent the college in the Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship,” said Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Karolewics. “She has proven to be a strong leader in her years heading the Wallace State Future Foundation and as Vice President for Advancement and Innovation, so we know she will do well in this endeavor and use what she learns to help the college as it grows in the future.”

Rising Presidents Fellows join a network of over 350 forward-thinking peers—175 of whom are sitting college presidents—who are applying concrete, grounded, and innovative strategies to meet student success challenges in their colleges.

The Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship is made possible by the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Burton Family Foundation, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, the College Futures Foundation, the Joyce Foundation and JPMorgan Chase. 

For bios and photos of all 40 leaders, visit highered.aspeninstitute.org/meet-the-rising-presidents-fellows.

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