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 Leadership Award Recognizes Commitment to Access, New Leaders 


For immediate release:  January 9, 2009
For more information:  Norma Kent, 202/728-0200 x209 or

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Two distinguished educators who have helped to train the next generation of community college leaders and improved access to higher education for thousands of students, have been selected to receive the 2009 National Leadership Award from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).   For more than 30 years, Walter G. Bumphus and J. William (Bill) Wenrich, have provided outstanding leadership for community colleges throughout the nation.

The National Leadership Award is given based on two principal criteria:  outstanding leadership at the national level over an extended period of time and a long-standing commitment to community colleges.  Drs. Bumphus and Wenrich will be recognized at the opening session of the AACC Annual Convention, scheduled April 4 in Phoenix, Ariz.

“It is a personal and a professional honor to be able to recognize these two exceptional leaders,” said AACC President George R. Boggs. “Their commitment to mentoring new leadership during decades of major growth for our colleges and to championing access and success for students in unparalleled.”

Dr. Bumphus began his career in higher education administration in 1972 as director of minority affairs and dormitory director at Murray State University (Kentucky).  In 1974, he became dean of students at East Arkansas Community College.  His dedication to the college and its students led to him to Washington, D.C., where he testified before Congress in pursuit of a waiver to allow the institution to offer federal aid in its first year of operation.  He later served as vice president and dean of students at Howard Community College (Maryland) for 14 years.

In 1991, Bumphus became the fourth president of Brookhaven College, one of seven colleges of the Dallas County Community College District (Texas).  There, he oversaw the construction of a state-of-the-art, 150,000-square-foot student services center.  He was elected to the AACC Board of Directors in 1993 and became its chair in1996.  He also worked in the private sector of education as the president of the Higher Education Division of Voyager Expanded Learning, providing curriculum and training materials for 1,000 school districts in 44 states.

In 2000, he was named chancellor of Baton Rouge Community College, which became one of the fastest growing colleges in the nation under his leadership.  Subsequently, he served as president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS), reporting to a 17-member board for the institutions and acted as spokesperson for the entire system of colleges before national and state legislators.  Under his leadership, the system experienced exponential growth, including the creation of two technical community colleges and the development of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System Leadership Development Institute. He led statewide efforts for transfer articulation agreements between the LCTCS and the other three systems of higher education in Louisiana.

Bumphus led the system in 2005 to deal with the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, during which several colleges within the system had to suspend operations. He immediately responded by establishing a call center to dispense information regarding the colleges’ activities during suspension and established temporary offices for the affected institutions.  He assisted students by working with a leadership team to establish locations for them to receive assistance and ensured that displaced employees received salary up to three months after the storms.

Currently, Bumphus continues to serve community colleges as a professor in the Community College Leadership Program and as chair of the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Texas at Austin.  Additionally, he works as an educational consultant, and he has consulted at more than 85 community colleges and universities throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

He has received national accolades for his work including the National Marie Y. Martin CEO of the Year award from the Association of Community College Trustees,  the National Initiative for Leadership and Institutional  Effectiveness Lifetime Achievement Award and the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development International Leadership Award (NISOD).

Bumphus holds Bachelor of Science and a Master of Education from Murray State University and a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Wenrich began his career in education in 1968 at the College of San Mateo as assistant to President Bob Ewigleben shortly after a riot broke out on the campus.  He helped to design and implement a plan to get the college back on track.  Six years later, he returned to the San Mateo Community College District as president of Canada College.

He has nearly 40 years of higher education leadership experience, serving as president of Ferris State University (Michigan) and Santa Ana College (California).  He served as chancellor of the Rancho Santiago Community College District (1979-1984) and the San Diego Community College District (1988-1990).

In 1990, he became chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD), Texas’ largest undergraduate institution, and the college experienced rapid growth under his leadership.  He initiated the innovative Rising Star program, which guarantees a full scholarship to all Dallas County high school students who graduate with a “B” average and demonstrate economic need.  To date, more than 9,000 predominately, minority students have been awarded these scholarships, drawing on a $24 million endowment that Wenrich helped to raise.  He also initiated the Undocumented Student Initiative, which eventually spread to other colleges throughout the state and has served more than 6,000 undocumented students.

Wenrich retired as chancellor emeritus of the DCCCD in 2003, but he has not retired from his service to community colleges.  He is currently involved with Achieving the Dream, a national, multi-year initiative aimed at helping more community college students succeed, with a particular focus on underrepresented populations.  He also serves on the national advisory board for AACC’s 50 Plus Initiative, a three-year initiative aimed at engaging the population of workers age 50 and above in learning, training and retraining, and voluntary service.  In addition, he works for the American Council on Education (ACE) as a consultant to recruit future community college leaders as Fellows in a leadership program sponsored by the American Council on Education (ACE).

Wenrich has mentored several generations of future community college leaders.  He helped to launch and currently serves on the executive committee of the Bill J. Priest Center of the University of North Texas, a center that is devoted to strengthening regional community college leadership study at the graduate level.  Additionally, he serves as a presenter and moderator for 30 of the nation’s best and brightest future presidents through the League for Innovation in the Community College’s Executive Leadership Institute.  He has helped prepare over 1,000 community college leaders during his career.

Wenrich has consulted on, written and published more that 20 books and articles regarding key issues community colleges face.  He has also received a number of accolades for his work.  He is the former board chair for the League of Innovation in the Community College, a former board member of the American Council on Education and a past president for the Texas Association of Community Colleges.

Wenrich received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton University and a Master of Arts and doctorate from the University of Michigan.

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The American Association of Community Colleges represents the nation’s almost 1,200 regionally accredited community, junior and technical colleges and their more than 11 million students.  Community colleges are the largest and fastest growing sector of higher education, enrolling close to half (46 percent) of all U.S. undergraduates.


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