A year-long celebration is underway as Ferris State University’s Doctorate in Community College Leadership has come to its 10th anniversary. Cohorts continue their learning in the Ferris DCCL program with classes on the Ferris-Grand Rapids campus and satellite instruction at Schoolcraft College, in Livonia, Michigan, and Lone Star College, in The Woodlands, Texas.
What started with 27 students on Ferris State University’s Big Rapids campus will be saluted into 2021 as the Doctorate in Community College Leadership program celebrates its 10th anniversary.
The first cohort of Michigan-based students, who began their studies in June 2010, illustrated the demand for this learning that continued in the years that followed, said DCCL Director Roberta Teahen.
“Both the program faculty and our first cohort understood that the process was one of trial and error, a decided attempt to break the paradigms that existed in this instructional model,” Teahen said. “We have always focused on providing instruction through the use of practitioner faculty, true academic professionals doing the work at their respective institutions.”
Whether learning happened on Ferris’ main campus, in Big Rapids; Schoolcraft College, in Livonia; Lone Star College, in The Woodlands, Texas; or a focused offering at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois, Teahen said the intention was to take new approaches to deliver instruction to achieve positive outcomes as part of the dissertation process.
“By bringing our students together with experts in fiscal resources, including chief financial officers and specialists in advancement and fundraising, it provided an excellent mix of theory and real-life experience,” Teahen said. “We sought to have our students take up dissertations that become a work valuable to their own college, and the response has been excellent. This has also seen hundreds of professionals chosen to review the dissertations our candidates have produced, who are familiar both with the institution and the subject area that was explored. These dissertations translate to and elevate the everyday work of their college, and our peers in leadership training seem to be following the trend.”
Grand Rapids Community College’s Associate Provost and Dean of Student Affairs Tina Hoxie was part of the inaugural cohort of Ferris DCCL graduates in 2013. She described her peers and instructors as “a unique and valuable collection.”
“I was one of four members of the cohort from GRCC,” Hoxie said. “Ours was the largest cluster within the cohort. Being part of that experience was a real advantage that allowed us to support each other through the program. Going through the DCCL program built a strength in me that I will carry forever. My relationships with peers in the academic and service sides of their institutions helped me to become a stronger leader, which certainly helped me.”
There are six DCCL graduates now serving as community college presidents, with the appointment of cohort four’s Glenn Cerny as Schoolcraft College’s leader. As of May 2020, 197 DCCL students have completed the program, and it is expected that there will be 300 graduates by the end of 2023. Hoxie said she could achieve her career goals because of her doctorate.
“This learning allowed me to move up into a provost’s role, along with increased responsibilities as dean of student affairs,” Hoxie said. “Being able to make this advancement and assume this rewarding assignment without needing to relocate was a very welcome development.”
Hoxie also lauded the philosophy of Ferris’ DCCL programming. She noted that the program’s focus on innovation and adaption to changes at community colleges, specifically, and higher education, generally, has been an asset in shaping administrative response since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Being able to solve problems, apply strategic thinking, and keeping a ‘big picture’ perspective is a particular asset in our current circumstances,” Hoxie said. “A specialized community college leadership curriculum has been very helpful in becoming a more able and responsive administrator.”
DCCL students, graduates, faculty and advisory board members have been invited to celebrate the 10th anniversary, with monthly events and activities planned to support networking and learning within their community. Teahen said a virtual symposium on Monday, June 29, had more than 50 participants engaged in discussing diversity and inclusion.
“This proved to be a timely consideration, a valuable offering for our participants,” Teahen said. “There is a need for professional development opportunities, especially in light of the pandemic’s demands. We want to stay connected to and supportive of our network of leaders.
Teahen said another highlight of the 10th-anniversary celebration will be the release of a book, “Enhancing Performance: A Best Practices Guide for Innovations in Community Colleges,” expected in early 2021.
“This anniversary is a chance to herald our amazing students, who are in the field and making a difference,” Teahen said. “This collection of essays offered from those across our program brings attention to their accomplishment, which is the centerpiece of our program.”