August 22, 2022
Mesa College President Dr. Ashanti T. Hands Selected for the Aspen Institute’s New
One of 26 Leaders Selected for Prestigious Program Developing the Next Generation
of Community College Leaders
San Diego, CA – The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program (Aspen) announced today that Dr. Ashanti
T. Hands of San Diego Mesa College is one of 26 leaders selected for the 2022-23 class
of the Aspen New Presidents Fellowship. This program, made possible with support from
JPMorgan Chase, 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 a part of this prestigious institute, alongside these brilliant
colleagues, at this crucial moment in time,” stated Dr. Hands. “The ability to engage
in dialogue, analyze and humanize data and actively plan to dismantle barriers that
prevent equity and excellence, sets my soul on fire. I am ready for this journey and
am excited to see how the overflow of this learning will impact higher and more equitable
levels of student success at San Diego Mesa College.”
Dr. Hands started her tenure as President at San Diego Mesa College on July 1, 2022.
An equity-focused leader with a deep commitment to diversity, access and student success,
Dr. Hands served as vice president of Student Services at Mesa College since 2016.
She joined Mesa College in 2008 and held positions as dean of Student Affairs, acting
dean of Student Development and Matriculation, and acting vice president of Student
This class of fellows represent the diversity of our nation’s community colleges,
collectively serving over 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
JPMorgan Chase’s philanthropic support for the Aspen Presidential Fellowship is part
of the firm’s New Skills at Work initiative to prepare young people for the future
of work and meet the growing demand for skilled workers, and the $30 billion commitment
to advance racial equity and drive an inclusive economy.
For bios and photos of all 26 leaders, visit highered.aspeninstitute.org/meet-the-new-presidents-fellows
About San Diego Mesa College
San Diego Mesa College is a fully accredited, comprehensive college committed to equity and excellence. We honor our diverse community of students, faculty, professional staff, and administrators
who collaborate to foster scholarship, leadership, access, and innovation in an inclusive
learning environment. By promoting student learning and achievement that leads to
degrees and certificates, transfer, workforce training, and lifelong learning, we
empower our students to reach their educational goals and shape their future. Among
the largest community colleges in California, Mesa serves 25,000 students per year,
25% of whom are full-time. Mesa offers nearly 200 associate degree and certificate programs and is one of 15 California community colleges offering a four-year baccalaureate
degree in Health Information Management. Mesa ranks as San Diego’s top transfer institution, is a proud Hispanic Serving
Institution (HSI), an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving
Institution (AANAPISI), and a Military Friendly School, serving nearly 2,500 veterans
and their families. www.sdmesa.edu.
The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program supports colleges and universities in their quest to achieve a higher standard of
excellence, delivering credentials that unlock life-changing careers and strengthen
our economy, society, and democracy. We know it takes visionary college leaders to
achieve this higher standard and we make it our mission to equip them with the knowledge,
skills, and research-backed tools to inspire change, shift practice, and advance the
capacity of colleges to deliver excellent and equitable student outcomes. For more
information, visit our website and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.
The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable
society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership,
and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and
the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado,
and an international network of partners. Learn more at www.aspeninstitute.org.
About JPMorgan Chase
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with
assets of $3.7 trillion and operations worldwide. The Firm is a leader in investment
banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking,
financial transaction processing, and asset management. A component of the Dow Jones
Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of customers in the United
States and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government
clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. Information about JPMorgan Chase &
Co. is available at www.jpmorganchase.com.
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