New UC Davis Center Supports Community College Leadership Through Education, Research

UC Davis School of Education Launches Program to Cultivate Community College Leadership

The University of California, Davis, School of Education, with the support of the California Community Colleges, has launched a program to support and cultivate current and future community college leaders through professional development and research.

Wheelhouse: The Center for Community College Leadership and Research, will convene annual cohorts of 20 sitting and aspiring community college presidents and chancellors, bringing them to UC Davis four times a year for institutes featuring intensive professional learning and peer support. The center launches March 30.

The center will conduct a yearly survey of community college leaders to seek input to inform institute curriculum.

Students listen to a physics lecture at Sacramento City College's Davis Center, located in West Village on the UC Davis campus. UC Davis photo.

Students listen to a physics lecture at Sacramento City College's Davis Center, located in West Village on the UC Davis campus. UC Davis photo.

Part of ongoing commitment to research on community colleges

UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi said UC Davis is dedicated to developing research on community college education — from student performance and curriculum to leadership.

“UC Davis is taking the lead on collecting data on this important facet of public education, even as we operate the first community college extension to be built on a UC campus at UC Davis West Village,” she said, referring to Sacramento City College’s Davis Center. “We want to build bridges from community colleges to UC Davis, and this new leadership research will help us expand that effort.” 

Community Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris lauded the development of California-based leadership resources for CEOs who have often had to travel out of state for professional development and support.

The average tenure of community college leaders is only three years — about half that of their counterparts in four-year universities.

“These leaders are responsible for some of the most important gears in California’s economic engine,” said Harris, who upon his retirement next month will join the Wheelhouse advisory board. “But their average rate of turnover is just too high. We need more ways to support them and prepare their successors for the challenges ahead, and we need to do it here.”

Wheelhouse will also conduct, translate and disseminate rigorous, timely, independent research briefs to inform policy development for college leaders, trustees and state policymakers. “We want to put actionable research and recommendations in the hands of people who need it, in a timely way and in understandable prose,” said Michal Kurlaender, lead researcher and associate professor for the UC Davis School of Education. “There’s a trove of data to draw from, and we’ll bring the right researchers to the task.”

Wheelhouse is supported by funding from UC Davis and the Hearst Foundations. It is also supported by the Foundation for California Community Colleges and a U.S. Department of Education Institute for Education Sciences grant to a research team led by Kurlaender.