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HCC President Christina Royal Chosen for National Fellowship

Holyoke Community College President Christina Royal has been selected for a national fellowship for first-time college presidents administered by the Washington, D.C.-based Aspen Institute.

The Aspen New Presidents Fellowship is a new initiative designed to support community college presidents in the early years of their tenure to accelerate transformational change on behalf of students.

President Royal, who lives in Northampton, and President Luis G. Pedraja of Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester were the only two community college presidents chosen from Massachusetts. They are part of the inaugural group of 25 Aspen fellows selected from more than 100 applicants nationwide.

The leaders, all of whom are in their first five years as a college president, will engage in a seven-month fellowship beginning in June 2020.

The fellows were selected for their commitment to student success and equity, willingness to take risks to improve outcomes, understanding of the importance of community partnerships, and ability to lead change.

Nearly 80 percent of community college presidents nationwide plan to retire in the next decade. Through this fellowship and its other leadership programs, Aspen is committed to helping to replace those exiting the presidency with an exceptionally capable and highly diverse talent pool. According to the American Council on Education, only 36 percent of community college presidents are female, and 20 percent are people of color.

The incoming class of Aspen fellows is 48 percent female, and 40 percent persons of color. Their institutions span 15 states and vary widely, from a rural college with fewer than 2,000 students to a statewide system that educates more than 150,000. The program for new presidents is an addition to the Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, which has been serving aspiring presidents since 2016. Of the nearly 160 fellows who have taken part in the Rising Presidents Fellowship, 41 are now community college presidents, serving more than 500,000 students.

For a complete list of the 2020-21 class of Aspen Presidential Fellows, visit: