Demographics of Community College Trustees

October 24, 2018

A survey released today by the Association of Community College Trustees examines the backgrounds of two-year college trustees and details what they say are challenges for their institutions.

The survey found that in regards to gender, race and ethnicity, trustees don't resemble community college students. Of the trustees who participated in the study, more than half are men, although more than half of community college students are women. Seventy-six percent of trustees identified as white, 7 percent as black and 6 percent as Hispanic or Latino. However, 50 percent of community college students in the U.S. are white, 15 percent are black and 24 percent identify as Hispanic or Latino.

“It is incumbent upon trustees to focus on the value of diversity and how demographic differences between leadership and students can impact institutional decision-making,” J. Noah Brown, ACCT's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Community colleges must work to promote diversity and inclusivity on their own boards and advocate for equity-minded policies and practices to support their students.”​

ACCT received more than 1,100 responses to the survey.

The survey found that the majority of trustees have earned a bachelor's degree or more, with 31 percent of respondents holding a master's degree. Only 29 percent of trustees said they had attended their community college as a student.

The survey also revealed the top five industries trustees were employed in, with 28 percent reporting they worked in education, 12 percent in government or politics, 8 percent in health care, retail and manufacturing. Thirty-five percent of trustees reported they were retired, and 32 percent were employed full-time. Forty-five percent of trustees reported earning between $50,000 and $149,999 annually, while 22 percent of trustees earned between $150,000 and $299,999.

More than 80 percent of trustees said they were motivated to join their boards because they want to improve programs for students, serve their community and promote student success.

Trustees also responded to what they view as challenges their communities and colleges face in the next decade. Forty-five percent of trustees said funding, improving student access, success and completion were the major challenges their colleges are facing.

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