The program supports community college presidents in the early years of their tenure as they work to achieve higher and more equitable levels of student success.
“I am honored to be selected for the Aspen Fellowship,” said Dr. Somerville, who began as the eighth Owens president in June 2021.
“The Aspen Institute is known for its exceptional work with community colleges at the national level. I look forward to working with the distinguished fellows in my class and identifying best practices that will help make a difference for Owens Community College and our students.”
This class of fellows represents the diversity of our nation’s community colleges, collectively serving more than 250,000 students at colleges across the nation, in urban, suburban and rural areas.
The incoming class of New Presidents Fellows is 46 percent female and 65 percent are people of color.
Located in 19 states, their institutions too are diverse, from a tribal college with fewer than 300 students to an urban college that educates more than 35,000 each year.
The fellows, selected through a competitive process, will work closely with other transformational community college presidents and Aspen leaders over nine months to learn from field-leading research, analyze their colleges’ student outcomes, and clarify their visions for excellent and equitable outcomes for students while in college and after they graduate.
“The quality of our nation’s community colleges depends on the quality of our college presidents,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the College Excellence Program. “I am continually inspired and motivated by the dedication and expertise that our fellows bring to the work of advancing excellence and equity on their campuses, and I look forward to seeing the changes they make in real time to improve outcomes for their students.”
Prior to taking the presidency at Owens, Dr. Somerville held leadership positions at Hawkeye Community College, Bloomsburg University, Iowa State University and Lorain County Community College. She earned her doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania, her master’s degree from Bowling Green State University and her bachelor’s degree from Ohio Northern University. The Detroit native worked a graduate assistantship at the University of Findlay. Dr. Somerville participated in the Harvard University Institute for Education Management and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ Millennium Leadership Institute.