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UMGC Receives $825,000 Grant from Ascendium Education Group to Prepare Next Generation of Community College Leaders

UMGC Receives $825,000 Grant from Ascendium Education Group to Prepare Next Generation of Community College Leaders

Bob Ludwig
By Bob Ludwig

Adelphi, Md. (June 2, 2020)—University of Maryland Global Campus has received an $825,000 grant from Ascendium Education Group to develop a new, innovative curriculum that responds to the evolving set of leadership skills needed in higher education for its doctoral program in Community College Policy and Administration, UMGC Chief Academic Officer Blakely Pomietto announced today.

As part of that process, the grant will fund the formation of an advisory committee—made up of thought leaders from community colleges, the workforce, universities and other non-profit organizations—to guide the development of the new curriculum and keep it current. Pomietto also announced members of the committee.

“By necessity, the role of the community college leader has evolved over time to keep pace with changes in the educational landscape that influence how colleges operate,” said UMGC President Javier Miyares. “At the same time, a growing number of senior leaders are approaching retirement age, creating a wealth of career opportunities for the next generation of community college executives.

“We designed our premier doctoral program to train the next generation of community college leaders, and we are pleased and grateful to receive this support from Ascendium and proud of the confidence it demonstrates in UMGC. It is vital that curricula be updated and new content developed, especially in fields that must develop leaders with the comprehensive knowledge base to successfully address today’s critical economic, political and workforce issues.”

Rebecca Villarreal, director for education grantmaking at Ascendium, said UMGC's curriculum redesign efforts align with the philanthropy's investment priority of developing postsecondary leaders who are committed and prepared to remove structural barriers to student success. "We're happy to fund this project and are excited to see how the new curriculum will lead to systemic change in postsecondary education," she said.

Last fall, as part of its curriculum redesign process, doctoral program administrators interviewed two dozen community college and workforce leaders as well as education policymakers, collecting feedback that will also inform the curricular update.

“There is great affinity between the UMGC mission and the mission of community colleges, and we are incredibly proud and eager to enhance our investment in our Community College Policy and Administration doctoral program,” said Pomietto. “Cultivating and supporting leadership development for this critical segment of the higher education landscape will help ensure that America’s community colleges continue to be a fulcrum of access to quality, affordable and innovative educational opportunities.”

According to Rey Garcia, UMGC professor and director of UMGC’s Community College Policy and Administration program, the commitment of Ascendium and UMGC to support the creation of a next-generation community college leadership program will have lasting and national impact on the future of community colleges and higher education.  “This effort,” he said, “done in collaboration with some of the finest thinkers in the community college field, is a model for high-quality program development and lasting partnerships.”

Karen Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream, a non-profit organization that is addressing the systemic inequalities within higher education, was named a co-chair of the advisory committee. “It is an honor to be a part of this impressive [group],” she said. “I am excited about developing a new curriculum for the UMGC program and its potential to be scaled up because of the university’s long history in distance education and reaching adult students no matter where they are.”

UMGC Community College Policy and Administration Advisory Board Co-Chairs:

Karen Stout, president and CEO, Achieving the Dream, Inc.

Richard Rhodes, president, Austin Community College (Texas)


Elizabeth Bolden, president/CEO, Pennsylvania Commission on Community Colleges

Tom Brock, director, Community College Research Center, Teachers College-Columbia University

Walter Bumphus, president and CEO, American Association of Community Colleges

Michael Collins, vice president, Jobs for the Future

Sunita Cooke, president, Mira Costa College (CA)

Rufus Glasper, president and CEO, League for Innovation in the Community College

Anne Kress, president, Northern Virginia Community College (VA)

Sandra Kurtinitis, president, Community College of Baltimore County (MD)

Justin Lonon*, executive vice chancellor, Dallas County Community College District (TX)

Mary Alice McCarthy, director, Education and Skills, New America

Mark Mitsui, president, Portland Community College (OR)

Sheila Quirk-Bailey*, president, Illinois Central College (IL)

Steve Robinson, president, Lansing Community College (MI)

Deborah Santiago, CEO, Excelencia in Education

*UMGC Alumnus

About Ascendium Education Group

Ascendium Education Group is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to helping people reach the education and career goals that matter to them. Ascendium invests in initiatives designed to increase the number of students from low-income backgrounds who complete postsecondary degrees, certificates and workforce training programs, with an emphasis on first-generation students, incarcerated adults, rural community members, students of color and veterans. Ascendium’s work identifies, validates and expands best practices to promote large-scale change at the institutional, system and state levels, with the intention of elevating opportunity for all. For more information, visit

About University of Maryland Global Campus

University of Maryland Global Campus is a world leader in innovative educational models, with award-winning online programs in disciplines including biotechnology, cybersecurity, data analytics and information technology that are in high demand in today’s increasingly technical, global workplace.

With an enrollment of some 90,000 students, UMGC offers open access with a global footprint and a specific mission—to meet the learning needs of students whose responsibilities may include jobs, family and military service. The university offers both undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs, including doctoral programs. A pioneer in distance education since 1947, UMGC today is harnessing the power of learning science and technology to deliver high quality, low cost, accessible higher education.