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 Three Community College Legends Recognized for Contributions to Higher Education 

4/11/2016
Untitled Document

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                          
April 9, 2016  

Contact: Martha Parham                                                                                                                            
202/728-0200 x209
mparham@aacc.nche.edu

George Boggs, Brice Harris, Wright Lassiter, Jr. receive AACC Leadership Award

Chicago, Ill. – The future of community colleges is dependent on the foundation set by the leaders of yesterday and today. With nearly 150 years of higher education experience between them, George Boggs, Brice Harris and Wright Lassiter, Jr. have helped to usher community colleges into the modern age and to prepare them for the future. They will were recognized with the national Leadership Award from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) at the 96th AACC Annual Convention on Saturday, April 9 at the event’s opening session.

George Boggs served as the ninth president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) from 2000 to 2010. During that decade, he helped lead an unprecedented period of achievement for community colleges. The colleges were lauded by both the Bush and Obama administrations, and regarded as critical to preparing the nation's workforce for in-demand jobs of the future.

Under Boggs' leadership, corporate and foundation support for AACC and community colleges grew, and a number of new programs were launched, including the Voluntary Framework of Accountability and the Plus 50 Initiative. Leadership competencies were developed and continue to be used in leadership development programs across the nation.

Boggs continues his work with community colleges as a senior consultant and project leader for College Brain Trust, a California-based think tank.

Before coming to AACC, he served for more than 15 years as president/superintendent of Palomar Community College District in California, serving San Diego County and enrolling more than 26,000 students. Prior to that, he was associate dean of instruction, division chair and instructor of chemistry at Butte College.

He is the author of Handbook on CEO-Board Relations and Responsibilities, numerous chapters in books and dozens of articles, many focused on the "learning college" concept, which Boggs helped popularize, and effective leadership and governance.

Brice Harris was appointed chancellor of the California Community Colleges in November 2012. The system has 113 colleges that serve more than 2 million students. At the time, the state’s colleges faced dramatic funding cuts and declining enrollment. Under his leadership, not only has enrollment increased, but completion rates have skyrocketed, as well.

Harris successfully advocated for key policy initiatives that enhanced student success and completion, including supports to improve transfer and career pathways for community college graduates. The highly-popular Associate Degree for Transfer program was established with California State University, and, in 2014, Harris helped secure legislation to create California’s Community College Baccalaureate Pilot Program.

In terms of funding, Harris’ work with the legislature and governor resulted in Fiscal Year 2015–16 seeing the largest budget increase for community colleges in the state’s history. Special legislation also was passed that authorized an appropriation of hundreds of millions of dollars for community colleges to adopt the systems and practices necessary to support student success, diversity and equity.
 
Prior to serving as chancellor of the system, Harris was chancellor of the Los Rios Community College District for 16 years.

In his 45-year career in community college education, Harris also has been a teacher and a mentor. He’s active in his community, serving on several boards, including the California Chamber of Commerce and the PRIDE Foundation, which is the largest employer of people with disabilities in the United States. He’s received several awards and, in 2012, was named the Pacific Region CEO of the Year by the Association of Community College Trustees.

Wright Lassiter, Jr. was appointed chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) in 2006.  Lassiter had the distinction of being the first black chancellor of the district. He led the seven-college district to prominence at the state and national level. He oversaw the completion of a $450-million bond program passed by voters. It resulted in the construction of 29 buildings throughout the district, including five community campuses in areas of Dallas County that were considered fast-growing or underserved. This work helped to accommodate the unprecedented enrollment growth, which reached 80,000 credit and 25,000 non-credit students.

During Lassiter’s tenure, the district also gained prominence in the business community. Grants from the Texas Workforce Commission allowed DCCCD to work more closely with companies and to prepare more workers in the county for high-demand positions.

Before becoming chancellor, Lassiter served as president of El Centro College—part of DCCCD—for 20 years. He played an instrumental role in founding Middle College High School (MCHS) in 1988. MCHS puts high school students on the path to earning college degree. A majority of the school’s graduates are the first in their families to complete college. The school was later renamed Dr. Wright L. Lassiter Jr. Early College High School at El Centro College. 

Lassiter retired from DCCCD in 2013, but continues to serve as a graduate school faculty member at Dallas Baptist University. He has written 13 books.

Earlier in his career, Lassiter served as president of Bishop College in Dallas. In 1979, he became the first black college president in the State University of New York System when he led Schenectady County Community College. 

AACC's Leadership Award, an annual tradition since 1982, is presented to individuals whose accomplishments and professional contributions to the community college field have been outstanding. An Awards Committee, consisting of members of the AACC Board of Directors, reviews all nominations and makes the final selections.

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As the voice of the nation’s community colleges, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), delivers educational and economic opportunity for 13 million diverse students in search of the American Dream. Uniquely dedicated to access and success for all students, AACC’s nearly 1,200 member colleges provide an on-ramp to degree attainment, skilled careers and family-supporting wages. Located in Washington, D.C., AACC advocates for these not-for-profit, public-serving institutions to ensure they have the resources and support they need to deliver on the mission of increasing economic mobility for all. 

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