DeFranco Chosen for Aspen Institute Fellowship Program Focusing on Student Success
February 5, 2020
Lake Tahoe Community College Superintendent/President Jeff DeFranco has been selected for a prestigious honor from The Aspen Institute, an international non-profit organization focused on values-based leadership development in a variety of industries. DeFranco was one of 25 community college presidents nationwide chosen to participate in the Institute’s inaugural Aspen New Presidents Fellowship for College Excellence program, an intensive learning experience that exposes community college presidents who are within their first five years on the job to the best research and practices known to improve student outcomes and success. DeFranco is in his fourth year as president of LTCC.
The 25 Aspen New Presidents fellows were selected from a national pool for their 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.
“This is a tremendous honor for me that I’m thrilled to accept, but it’s what this experience will mean for our students and college that I’m most excited about,” said DeFranco. “What I’ll be exposed to and learn about through this fellowship will have a direct impact on student completion and transfer rates, and other indicators that tell us how well our students are actually doing while at LTCC, and after they’ve left us.”
The New Presidents Fellowship program focuses on sharing expertise with sitting community college presidents to improve student outcomes in degree completion, learning, transfer, employment, earnings for graduates, and equity for low-income and students of color. Participants attend seminars, dive deeply into their college’s data to identify areas where student outcomes can and should improve, and leave the program at year’s end with a comprehensive, targeted plan for tackling known student success challenges.
For this fellowship, DeFranco will attend two seminars led by Aspen Institute faculty and community college professionals. In between sessions, he’ll engage in peer group work, webinars, and mentorship opportunities to further enhance his knowledge of how to improve student success on LTCC’s campus.
“We want to improve our results when it comes to timely completion in particular,” said DeFranco. “It’s a problem nationwide: it takes community college students longer to complete degrees, certificates, or required classes needed to transfer. But, part of what this fellowship will do is show us what blind spots we may have, and help us understand where else we need to improve. They may even identify an area we aren’t aware of.”
“All of LTCC’s trustee members are really excited for Jeff, our current and future students, and for the college,” said LTCC Board President Nancy Dalton. “Everyone will benefit from this at LTCC and we’re looking forward to continuing to improve what we provide our students.”
Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, said, “We know more than ever before about how community colleges can improve outcomes for students, both in and after college. And the urgency for them to do so only increases—especially for students of color and low-income students. These fellows have shown they are fully, urgently committed to excellence and equity, and we look forward to working alongside them.”
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring shared values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute’s College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes, especially for the growing population of low-income students and students of color on America’s college campuses. The Community College Excellence Program’s New President Fellowship program launching this year is entirely free for participants, including tuition, lodging and meals, thanks to the support of JPMorgan Chase & Co.