STOCKTON — Dr. Lisa Cooper Wilkins of San Joaquin Delta College has been awarded the prestigious Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, a leadership program aimed at preparing the next generation of community college presidents to transform institutions across the nation to help students be more successful both in college and in the workforce.
The fellowship is awarded by the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program, an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C. that aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes.
Cooper Wilkins said she is grateful for Delta Superintendent/President Kathy Hart’s nomination for such a unique professional development experience. She was one of 40 community college leaders across the country to be selected.
“What is most exciting is the opportunity I will have to bring back what I learn to our district so that we can continue our collective efforts to advance student success here at Delta for all students,” said Cooper Wilkins, who serves as Delta’s assistant superintendent and vice president for student services.
Hart said she was honored to nominate Cooper Wilkins. “I’m very delighted that she has been selected for this prestigious fellowship and all of the fantastic experiences that go along with it,” Hart said.
The goal: student success
Cooper Wilkins and the 39 other Aspen Presidential Fellows will embark on a 10-month fellowship beginning in July 2018. Delivered in collaboration with the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative, the fellows will be mentored by community college leaders who have had outstanding results for their students, learn from national experts about ways to use data to make their students more successful, and learn how to create strong external partnerships with K-12 schools, four-year colleges, and employers in their community.
The Aspen Fellowship responds to a growing need for a new generation of leaders who are well-equipped to meet the challenges facing community colleges. Nationally, nearly 80 percent of sitting presidents plan to retire in the next decade, and women and people of color have traditionally been excluded from such positions.
Cooper Wilkins arrived at Delta in December 2014 after serving at the University of the Pacific as associate vice president for student life. Her selection as an Aspen fellow came after a rigorous process that considered her abilities to take strategic risks, lead strong teams and cultivate partnerships, and focus on results-oriented improvements in student success and access.
To date, 22 Aspen presidential fellows are now sitting community college presidents, including Delta’s former vice president of instruction, Matt Wetstein, who is now at Cabrillo College.