Community College Leadership Program, University of Texas at Austin
Hundreds of community college students and graduates owe their successful college careers— and their future successes—to the hard work and dedication of Byron McClenney. His tireless focus on improving developmental education and enhancing students’ community college learning experience has affected institutions throughout the United States.
McClenney’s 49 years in education include a remarkable 32 years serving as a community college chief executive—a career that spans five colleges in four states. He continues to be one of the most respected and sought-after national leaders for strategic planning in community colleges.
He established developmental education as a priority at each institution where he served as CEO, believing that dramatically improved results were possible for every student, particularly for underserved minority students.
His motto is: “Give people good data and they will make good decisions.” This faith in the education community is a hallmark of the kind of inspiring leadership that turned the Community College of Denver into one of the most highly regarded community colleges in the country. Its successes in developmental education are considered to represent an ideal to which all other community colleges aspired.
McClenney retired as a CEO in 2003 but has been devoting himself to higher education in other ways. He is a senior lecturer in the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) and serves on the staff of the Community College Leadership Program (CCLP) at UT as project director for Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count (ATD), one of the largest and most ambitious community college student success programs in the United States. ATD shares best practices in developmental education courses, allowing participating colleges to motivate students to continue schooling and help students who are growing frustrated. Launched as an initiative in 2004, Achieving the Dream has established a network of 160 institutions in 30 states and the District of Columbia, serving more than two million students.
McClenney also serves as co-director for the California Leadership Alliance for Student Success (CLASS). Focused on building a cadre of leaders and colleges powerfully focused on the student success agenda, CLASS is supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the James Irvine Foundation and directed by CCLP at UT. He is a member of the consultant team for the Ford Foundation’s national Community College Bridges to Opportunity Initiative and served as co-director from 2003 to 2008. He served on President Clinton’s Steering Committee for America Reads/America Counts and on several commissions of the American Council on Education. He was also the founding chair of the Colorado Campus Compact and served as national vice chair of Campus Compact.
It’s hard to enumerate all the different ways McClenney has furthered the cause of higher education, but he has served as a consultant to institutions, state higher education systems, state governments, and professional associations in 47 states and internationally—including serving in several positions with the American Association of Community Colleges. Dozens of community college CEOs have matured and developed under McClenney’s mentorship.