Dr. Mary S. Graham selected to national community college board

June 20, 2013

Dr. Mary S. Graham

Dr. Mary S. Graham of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College has been elected to the Board of Directors for the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), a national organization representing the nation’s almost 1,200 two-year colleges and their more than 13 million students.

The new board members were certified during AACC’s recent annual meeting in San Francisco, California, and will officially take office July 1, serving a three-year term. Comprising 32 members, the AACC board governs association policy and helps guide strategic direction for national advocacy and other key functions of the Washington, D.C.-based organization.

“This is an incredible opportunity for Mississippi and particularly MGCCC to be in the forefront of national decision-making about the direction of community colleges,” Graham says. “Community colleges are on the front lines of providing quality training and affordable education that is accessible and convenient, creating opportunities for both individual and community success. I hope to share with the AACC board some of the innovative ideas for funding, community engagement and industry partnerships we have successfully employed at MGCCC.  These innovations can help other community colleges remain competitive in the current economy. In turn, I am looking forward to learning about best practices other community colleges have implemented.”

Graham was named the 12th president of the college in 2011.  The 100-year-old, multi-campus institution serves more than 36,000 residents annually in the four-county district with a $110 million operating budget and more than 1,000 full- and part-time employees. A native of Mississippi, Graham earned her doctorate in Higher Education Administration from The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) and her master’s and bachelor’s degrees are from USM as well.  As an MGCCC graduate and alumna, she embraces the philosophy of the community college and the rich tradition of excellence in education.

The selection of new board members infuses new energy into the association’s leadership and comes during a key time for community colleges, says Dr. Walter G. Bumphus, president of AACC. “America’s community colleges represent the hope of brighter futures for millions of people today and are keeping the dream of postsecondary education affordable,” he says. “Our new board members are joining us during a pivotal time, as community colleges are being asked to double the number of students completing degrees and other postsecondary credentials and to train significantly more workers to meet the needs of employers throughout the nation.”

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Association of Community Colleges is a national organization representing the nation’s close to 1,200 community, junior, and technical colleges and their over 13 million students. Community colleges are the largest sector of higher education, enrolling almost half of all U.S. undergraduates. For more information about AACC and community colleges, visit www.aacc.nche.edu.

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