DREAM Reflections

Achieving the Dream President & CEO Dr. Karen A. Stout reflects on DREAM 2016.


It’s just over a week since we closed DREAM 2016 in Atlanta, and I’m still feeling the energy and momentum generated by more than 2,000 participants who attended the conference. I’ve been reflecting on my first DREAM as ATD president, and I’d like to share some of those thoughts.

First, thank you to all DREAM speakers who took time out of their busy schedules to share their expertise and knowledge with the ATD network. They added great value to the program and provided many opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, which is so important to this annual gathering.

Second, the 2016 DREAM Scholars deserve special congratulations. Nicole Barth of St. Clair County Community College, Tyrone Foster of the College of Southern Nevada, Charles Kivlehen of Lone Star College – Tomball, Desiree Robinson of Kingsborough Community College, Tamika Narvaez-Payne of Bakersfield College, and Craig Smith of Central Georgia Technical College each went through a rigorous selection process, maintained a demanding schedule at DREAM, and delivered remarks with tremendous insight and poise during their closing panel presentation. Their contributions as participants and as presenters was a highlight of the conference.

Congratulations to President Kenneth Ender and his team at Harper College, this year’s winner of the Leah Meyer Austin award for comprehensive institutional change that results in noteworthy improvements in student outcomes. They aimed for full-scale cultural transformation and exceeded their goals. We’re proud to have them recognized for their exceptional work.

And congratulations to Jefferson Technical and Community College and President Ty Handy and his team for their selection as the first-ever winner of the OneMain Financial Community College Financial Empowerment Award. The award recognizes their outstanding work helping students improve their financial literacy skills.

ATD made a number of major announcements at DREAM 2016 concerning new directions for our work and our partners who will be collaborating with us. Here’s a brief recap of each one, with hyperlinks to more details posted on the ATD website:

  • Institutional Capacity Framework and Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool (ICAT) helps colleges develop a core set of institutional strengths that will enable them to successfully take on whole-college interventions such as guided pathways and integrated planning and advising systems. Coaching will be focused on these areas. A “light” version of the ICAT will be released to the network soon so colleges can see what it’s like. Read more
  • Open Educational Resources (OER) Degree Initiative is a new effort to increase college degree completion rates and access by involving faculty in redesigning courses and degree programs using open educational resources. We invited community colleges across the United States and Canada to submit applications. The initiative will enable between 20 and 30 community colleges, including both individual colleges and college systems, to create new OER Degree programs. Applications are due April 8. Read more
  • Engaging Adjunct Faculty in the Student Success Movement is an initiative to put part-time, or adjunct faculty, in the center of helping community students succeed in completing college and earning degrees. The initiative will build leadership opportunities for adjunct faculty, and improve professional development activities and engage all faculty in student-focused reform efforts. Read more
  • ATD and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) announced that together we will begin pursuing opportunities through the alignment of our respective success metrics to speak with one voice about the value of community colleges, from student entry through completion, and into the workforce. Read more
  • ATD and Hobsons will bring leaders from community colleges and K-12 institutions together in two workshops this fall to develop strategies to ensure that students stay on track throughout their academic journeys and achieve their postsecondary and career goals. Read more

As I laid out in my opening plenary keynote, we are “looking back to move forward” and starting to do things differently. I’ve included a few abbreviated key points below. The full text of my keynote address will be posted on the ATD website soon. 

The New ATD Way

Colleges’ ICAT results will allow colleges to assess their strengths in each capacity area and track them over time. The results also will provide a blueprint for coaching and other services ATD provides. We know that some colleges are further along in their journeys of institutional change than others, so we’ll adjust the level of support to match what’s needed. Colleges in the beginning stages will need a full ATD experience while longer-term members of the network may need an overall tune-up or deeper, customized technical assistance in one, two or three of the capacity areas.

Leadership Coaching

Beginning in July, leadership coaching will join data coaching as an ATD-managed function. Since our founding, we have worked tightly with UT-Austin and founding National Coaching Director Byron McClenney, and now Cynthia Ferrell, to deploy our leadership coaches. We thank Byron and Cynthia for their years of leadership and for continuing with us as coaches. We aspire to build on our core competency of embedded coaching and become the resource, coaching and technical assistance hub for the network and the field.

Faculty Engagement

With the launch of the new adjunct faculty engagement initiative, we’ll be continuing and deepening our work to put faculty and adjunct faculty at the center of ensuring student success. We’ll be issuing an RFP by early April for colleges interested in setting up more opportunities for increased adjunct faculty engagement through professional learning opportunities and involvement in policymaking relevant to adjuncts, such as onboarding and orientation, deeper communication channels, increased allocation of resources, data collection and reporting, and common hiring and evaluation processes. ATD will partner with the Community College Research Center (CCRC) in documenting and disseminating the knowledge gained about these activities.

We’re looking forward to working closely with our network colleges, partners, and friends in the months ahead. You can expect to hear more about these changes going forward.

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