Dr. Michael A. Baston, President
Dr. Michael A. Baston is a national thought leader amplifying the role community colleges play in redefining educational success, leading diversity, equity, and inclusion campus-wide reform efforts, and developing executive leadership teams. Dr. Baston has led Rockland Community College in Suffern, New York, as its president since 2017. Under Dr. Baston’s leadership, he helped RCC launch a Hospitality and Culinary Arts Center, a new guided pathway influenced academic school model, Career and English Skills Academies to address middle-skills workforce needs, and secured $30 million in grant, capital, and other fundraising efforts, including back-to-back Title V Developing Hispanic-Serving Institution awards, the largest grants in RCC history. Dr. Baston’s Steps Beyond Statements Initiative has helped to signal specific steps that educational institutions can take to foster inclusive excellence. He was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the primary advocacy organization for the nation’s community colleges. Dr. Baston is also a contributing author to Race, Education, and Reintegrating Formerly Incarcerated Citizens, and the Handbook for Student Affairs in Community Colleges.
Publications, Presentations and Appearances
Dr. Baston is a highly respected member of the higher education community. He is often asked to write articles, speak on panels and give presentations on various industry topics. Here are links to some of his recent work. Click on the publication/organizational logos to access Dr. Baston’s work.
Dr. Baston’s Additional Work and “In the News” Features
- Back2Basics Podcast: “Dr. Michael Baston – Take Charge of Your Tomorrow”
- Community College Daily, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education: “Steps Beyond Statements: Presidential Leadership in Building a Case for Inclusive Excellence”
- Council of Industry’s HV Mfg: “High Hopes Reimagining Hudson Valley’s Opportunity Ecosystem”
- Hudson Valley News: “Dr. Baston, RCC President, Chosen as National Designer in Residence To Reimagine the Role of Higher Education in Closing Racial and Economic Opportunity Gaps”
- National Center for Inquiry & Improvement: “Leadership for Equity in Community Colleges Panel Discussion”
- University Business: “Hard Realities, High Hopes: Reimagining the Higher Education Ecosystem”
- The Atlantic
- Black Enterprise Magazine
- The Chronicle of Higher Education
- Community College Daily – “Earning credit for non-credit courses”
- The Community College Times
- USA Today
Moving RCC Forward
Developing "Real World Ready" Students
First and foremost, Dr. Baston is a student-advocate. His commitment to developing “real world ready” students at RCC is evident in his leadership. With Dr. Baston’s guidance, the President’s Society, which connects students with community and business leaders for hands-on learning workshops, and the Street Team, RCC’s student marketing team who works on real projects for the College in the areas of marketing, social media, graphics, and more, were developed. RCC created a robust peer-mentoring program within the Student Success area to provide a work opportunity for the mentors, and an additional resource for the students they support.
Inspired by his commitment to making college accessible for ALL students, Dr. Baston led RCC to institute a Career Skills Academy pilot program, with courses designed to provide opportunities to obtain industry-specific certifications, and/or to transfer into degree-seeking programs. Career Skills Academy offers programs where students can gain workforce certifications in less than a year and fill high demand jobs in our region.
Championing Racial Equity
The current global call for racial equity and justice highlights the importance and urgency of our commitment to Inclusive Excellence at RCC. As part of that commitment, Dr. Baston formed the “Steps Beyond Statements” Working Group in order to build our institutional strengths and identify and address institutional challenges. The work of Steps Beyond Statements will ensure a safe and welcoming environment and equitable opportunities and outcomes for all our students, faculty and staff. The key words here are: Access—the opportunity to fully participate in campus life; Equity—fair and just outcomes for all to achieve their full intellectual and professional potential; and Inclusion—an individual or group sense of belonging as valued members of campus life. “Steps Beyond Statements” is Rockland Community College’s commitment to living our value of social consciousness. Read more about the Steps Beyond Statements work.
Growing Financial Support
Under Dr. Baston’s leadership, the College secured two Title V grants since 2019, totaling nearly $6 million in support of RCC students. These highly competitive federal grants were the largest grants secured in RCC’s 60-year history. They will ensure that the College continues on the path to offer students high quality programs, boost institutional stability, expand educational opportunities, and support its commitment to strengthen career pathways to empower workforce ready students.
Empowering Faculty and Staff
Dr. Baston is committed to providing RCC’s faculty and staff with opportunities to grow and enhance their skill sets. Under his leadership, the College launched the Center for Professional Development, and the Academy for Academic and Professional Development. Open to all faculty and staff, the Center for Professional Development’s mission is to provide robust opportunities focused on critical issues facing faculty and staff in higher education today, and offer the training necessary for positive change on a personal, professional, and institutional level. The Academy for Academic and Professional Development is a pioneering initiative designed to encourage Adjunct Faculty to explore potential full-time employment opportunities at the College in both teaching and administration, through a rotation program of hands-on and mentored professional development.