Fifteen Alabama and 13 Mississippi community college administrators got a closer look at Meridian Community College on Tuesday as they gathered for the first meeting of the 2019 cohort of the Community College Policy Fellowship Program.
The Community College Policy Fellowship Program is a 10-month professional development program sponsored by the Mississippi Community College Board and the Alabama Community College System and directed by Tyson Elbert of AdvocacyBuild, LLC.
MCC President Thomas Huebner spoke to the group explaining his path to becoming a community college president and sharing suggestions and the value of networking with others. “The thing that I benefit the most from networking is that I can pick up the phone and call other people who do what I do and ask, ‘How do you handle this?’ I do it often. I don’t pretend I know the answer,” he said.
He added, “I don’t have the need to be right. But I have the need to do right.”
Huebner said he’s experienced good people in all of the places he’s worked. “I’m very grateful for those relationships and opportunities. There are people who lift you up and I absolutely love what I do," he said.
Cathy Parker, director of institutional effectiveness at MCC and an alumna of CPFP, also addressed the group, sharing her experience in the program and urging the new class to make the most of it. "As with any program, you get out of it what you put into it. I encourage you to embrace the opportunities ahead and to forge friendships with each other and with the others you will meet through this program. Build your network," she said.
Another MCC faculty member, Chad Graham, social science division chair, psychology instructor and a participant in this year’s program, said Tuesday’s session revealed CPFP’s purpose, structure and goals. “The program is a great opportunity for professional development, specifically improving leadership and advocacy skills,” Graham said.
The CPFP cohort meets throughout the academic year to discuss state and national policies on education and to determine successful ways to advocate on behalf of Alabama and Mississippi college students. The fellowship program will culminate in a trip to Washington D.C., for the Washington Advocacy Seminar, enabling the cohort to meet with education policymakers.