Dr. Anthony J. Iacono, president of County College of Morris, has been selected by the Aspen Institute to join the 2020-21 inaugural class of the Aspen New Presidents Fellowship, a new initiative designed to support community college presidents in the early years of their tenure to accelerate transformational change on behalf of students.
Iacono is one of 25 Aspen Fellows selected from more than 100 applicants nationwide for this opportunity, which is fully funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and run by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. The leaders, all of whom are in their first five years as a college president, will engage in a seven-month fellowship beginning in June 2020.
“We are delighted that Dr. Iacono is being recognized by such a prestigious organization for the outstanding work he has been doing at CCM to ensure the success of our students and to provide the pathways for individuals to reach their dreams and build a better life for themselves, their families and communities,” said Thomas Pepe, chair of the college’s Board of Trustees.
The fellows were selected 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.
“We know more than ever before about how community colleges can improve outcomes for students, both in and after college,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “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.”
Nearly 80 percent of community college presidents nationwide plan to retire in the next decade. Through this fellowship and its other leadership programs, Aspen is committed to helping to replace those exiting the presidency with an exceptionally capable and highly diverse talent pool. According to the American Council on Education, only 36 percent of community college presidents are female, and 20 percent are people of color. The incoming class of Aspen fellows is 48 percent female, and 40 percent are people of color. Their institutions span 15 states and vary widely, from a rural college with fewer than 2,000 students to a statewide system that educates more than 150,000.
The program for new presidents is an addition to the Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, which has been serving aspiring presidents since 2016. Of the nearly 160 fellows who have taken part in the Rising Presidents Fellowship, 41 are now community college presidents, serving more than 500,000 students.
“By preparing students and workers for in-demand jobs and meeting the training needs of businesses, community colleges are critical institutions for their regions’ prosperity and development,” said Jennie Sparandara, head of workforce initiatives, JPMorgan Chase. “JPMorgan Chase is proud to partner with the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program to build the next generation of diverse community college leaders.”
JPMorgan Chase is funding the Aspen Presidential Fellowship as part of New Skills at Work, a five-year, $350 million investment to support community colleges and other pathways to great careers and economic mobility.
As a Presidential Fellow, Iacono will attend two residential seminars led by Aspen faculty and other leading community college professionals, analyze CCM’s student outcomes, devise plans to tackle student success challenges and take part in networking and other learning opportunities.
Iacono became CCM’s third president in 2016. A community college graduate, he is a strong believer in the power of community colleges to transform lives. Under his leadership, CCM has developed an academic success center, a food pantry, a childcare assistance program and other support services to assist students in meeting their goal of obtaining a college education.
He also has focused on expanding the number of partnerships with community organizations to provide as many people as possible with pathways to realize their dreams for a better future. As he likes to note, “Every individual deserves a great education regardless of the circumstances of their birth.” Included among those efforts, CCM has launched Dover College Promise to provide middle and high school students in Dover, NJ, a predominately Hispanic community, with free after-school support services, mentoring and a pathway to attend college. Should they elect to attend CCM, those students will have their tuition fully funded under that program.
Also during his tenure as president, CCM has redesigned its vocational and technical education training programs to better prepare individuals interested in careers in such fields as advanced manufacturing and engineering. Supporting that effort, CCM is constructing a 31,500-sqauare-foot Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering that is schedule to open this fall. Last year, CCM also received a $4 million U.S. Department of Labor grant to lead a consortium of New Jersey community colleges in designing a network of apprenticeship programs in advanced manufacturing.
Iacono has served as an advisor to the United States Department of Education, various national think tanks and educational reform organizations. Currently, he is a member of the New Jersey Presidents’ Council, which represents New Jersey’s public, private colleges and universities. He also is a strong supporter and an active member of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC). He is a member of the NJCCC Workforce Steering Committee where he is assisting with implementing a statewide Humanities in the Workforce initiative to ensure community college students are provided with the full range of skills to ensure their success. He also is member of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.