With major support from the Strada Education Network, GISS administered its 32nd institute and its second state systems institute November 29-30, 2018, in Nashua, New Hampshire, for five New England states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Approximately seventy (70) participants from the five New England states attended the regional GISS training. Of this number, 50 were state system trustees and chancellors/presidents and CEOs. The remaining 10 participants were college executive staff and institutional researchers who prepared data reports for board members.

Of particular note, participating in the GISS to welcome the CEOs and trustees were Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH) Chancellor Dr. Ross Gittell and President of the Board and local entrepreneur, Jeremy Hitchcock, who spoke on innovation and workforce issues to the group. Hitchcock was later interviewed by Dr. Michael Thomas, President of the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE), which also promoted the program for the region.


ACCT President and CEO, J. Noah Brown, set the stage for the entire event by reviewing the Board’s Role in Policy Development with topics from a nation divided politically to community college governance and leadership needed to incent and manage change.

ACCT President and CEO J. Noah Brown sets the stage by advocating for a new entrepreneurial business model for community colleges.

Guest Speakers

Special guest speakers included Dr. Madeline Pumariega, former Chancellor of the Florida College System, who spoke about boards Making that Cultural Shift to 21st Century Teaching and Learning.

Other key presenters included Jen Mishory, Senior Fellow at The Century Foundation, who is noted for her research and publications about College Promise programs. She engaged participants in a lively question- and- answer session on the benefits of “free tuition” for community college students. Some of the trustees were hearing about College Promise programs across the country for the first time.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Additionally, San Diego Community College District Trustee and key member of the ACCT Board of Directors, Bernie Rhinerson spoke about his district’s promise program and about how the state of California keeps a detailed scorecard and dashboard on student metrics to monitor student success.

Strada Education Network’s Innovation Officer

To top off the program on the second day, Michelle Weise, Senior Vice President for Workforce Strategies and Strada Education Network’s Innovation Officer, presented on Reimagining Education to Meet the Needs of the Workforce of 2030. Her dynamic presentation was topped off by distribution of Robot Ready: Human+ Skills for the Future of Work, a recent publication by the Strada Institute for the Future of work which Weise directs. Strada sponsored the event, the second state systems institute for ACCT.

President and CEO of the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE), Michael Thomas introduced the Commission of Higher Education and Employability Report (produced earlier this year) to the group. He also interviewed CCSNH’s Board Chair Jeremy Hitchcock, also founder of Dyn, an internet infrastructure company and Minim, an IoT networking and security company for insights about hiring new workers

Following this presentation, Ross Gittell and Ellen Kennedy, President of Berkshire Community College, MSA, spoke about the Employability Audit and what the report means for the New England States.

Participating States & Colleges

Massachusetts, not a state system, also attended with over 33 participants. Unlike the rest of New England governed by a single statewide governing board, each college in the Bay State has its own governing board. The nine attending Massachusetts community colleges included: Berkshire, Bristol, Cape Cod, Holyoke, MassBay, Middlesex, Mount Wachusett, North Shore, and Quinsigamond.

In addition to eleven (11) Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) Board of Regents members and executives, the eleven participating community colleges from the Nutmeg State included: Asnuntuck, Capital, Naugatuck Valley, Housatonic, Gateway, Manchester, Middlesex, Northwestern Connecticut, Norwalk, Quinebaug, and Three Rivers.

New Hampshire

Led by Chancellor, Ross Gittell, thirteen (13) members of the Community College System of New Hampshire Board actively participated in the governing institute.


Vermont’s Jeb Spaulding, Chancellor of Vermont State Colleges, enjoys comments from executives Yasmine Ziesler, Chief Academic Officer, left, and Heather Weinstein, Dean of Students, and Joyce Judy, President of the Community College of Vermont, at the institute.

Evaluation Summary

The following summary provides following summary provides highlights from the evaluation surveys returned at the end of the institute. A total of twenty-one (31) surveys were completed and returned. Based on the comments and feedback received, trustees and the district CEO/president and executives completed the survey on behalf of their respective district/college for a 4.4 average rating out of 5.

Survey completers responded to the open-ended question about how to improve future learning events. While some respondents noted that “The first day was quite long,” and that “there is a need for greater focus on systems and the effectiveness of systems,” one respondent concluded that it was a “great institute–very well planned and executed. All speakers were very informative and provocative.”

Survey participants also shared their thoughts on the most important learning of the day which often focused on the value of learning that other state systems had similar concerns and challenges. One comment was that “the state and the region appear to be behind other sections of the country on developing cost-free higher education.” Many appreciated the sharing of ideas and open communications and learning about “the common challenges we face.”

  • The research material shared; an incredible level of research shared
  • Resources were excellent
  • Data matters
  • The future of work
  • Best practice impact
  • An agenda of urgency; Madeline’s sense of urgency
  • Data for philanthropy
  • The binder has awesome resources to explore

Significantly, some appreciated “the importance of working more closely with the Board and getting on the same page to support our students and our state economy.” One respondent noted that “Trustees/ Regents and campus leaders need to get together more often!” Of particular note, several comments praised Michelle Weise’s presentation on the future of work. “Excellent Strada program. We should have that presentation mandatory for colleges and trustees.”

Respondents also indicated what they learned at the institute that they would like to use or implement to sustain the student success agenda at their institutions, including having annual board self-assessments, and learning about the Promise campaign. Several comments referred to specific parts of the agenda including board roles and measuring student success:

  • Focus on removing barriers at the policy level
  • Define success before designing curricula
  • First, clearly define measures for student success. Then tell our story to the legislature and the public.
  • Excellent national best practices—can adapt.
  • The impact of CA’s promise programs on equity
  • Really work to optimize and emphasize pathways-skill sets
  • Getting our regents engaged
  • Community colleges are severely underfunded

The major challenges to implementing/sustaining a student success agenda, as reported by most of the state systems respondents, were not unlike those from other GISS states, and centered on 1) resistance to change by factions of involved parties – faculty, in particular, and 2) lack of funding. Example comments:

  • Funding –Limited financial resources (9 comments)
  • Providing data to help the faculty embrace a student success agenda
  • Resistance to change from faculty (5 comments)
  • Communicating effectively the sense of urgency to faculty leading to transformation.
  • Shift in focus from thinking about jobs to thinking about career competencies

Specific topics which board members and college leaders want for more training include:

  • Preparing for and managing change
  • Delivering and developing a sense of urgency for faculty and staff
  • Workshop on how board members can learn more about each institution
  • Board and President retreat
  • Discussions about what not to do


Other pictures of the 2018 New England State Systems GISS Institute in Nashua were provided by the Nashua Community College’s Media department.