President Kevin McCarthy named Aspen Institute Fellow

  • Published Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Dr. Kevin McCarthy, president of Renton Technical College, was selected by the Aspen Institute to join the 2020-21 inaugural class of the Aspen New Presidents Fellowship, a new initiative designed to support community college presidents to accelerate transformational change on behalf of students.

McCarthy is one of 25 Aspen Fellows selected from more than 100 applicants for this opportunity, which is fully funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and run by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. The leaders, all of whom are in their first five years as a college president, will engage in a seven-month fellowship beginning in June 2020.

"Dr. McCarthy is committed to student success and equity, and he has advanced both as president," said Frieda Takamura, chair of the RTC Board of Trustees. "This is a wonderful opportunity for him to learn even more about how to best serve RTC students now and in the future."

McCarthy assumed the presidency in July 2015 after serving as vice president of instruction at Lake Washington Institute of Technology and dean of the Health Sciences, Education, and Wellness Institute at Bellevue College. He also served as the associate vice president of instruction at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Ore.

Dr. McCarthy received his Ph.D. and master's degrees in American history from the University of Mississippi. He began his career as an educator and administrator at Colorado Rocky Mountain School. He also served as an instructor at the University of Mississippi and a visiting assistant professor at the University of Georgia.

The fellows, who have been college presidents for five years or less, were selected for their commitment to student success and equity, willingness to take risks to improve outcomes, understanding of the importance of community partnerships, and ability to lead change.

RTC's completion rate of 66 percent is the highest in the state, and 69 percent of students identify as people of color. For the fourth straight time, RTC was named one of the top 150 community colleges in the country by the Aspen Institute. 

"We know more than ever before about how community colleges can improve outcomes for students, both in and after college," said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. "And the urgency for them to do so only increases – especially for students of color and low-income students. These fellows have shown they are fully, urgently committed to excellence and equity, and we look forward to working alongside them."

Nearly 80 percent of community college presidents nationwide plan to retire in the next decade. Through this fellowship and its other leadership programs, Aspen is committed to helping to replace those exiting the presidency with an exceptionally capable and highly diverse talent pool.

JPMorgan Chase is funding the Aspen Presidential Fellowship as part of New Skills at Work, a five-year, $350 million investment to support community colleges and other pathways to great careers and economic mobility.

"By preparing students and workers for in-demand jobs and meeting the training needs of businesses, community colleges are critical institutions for their regions' prosperity and development," said Jennie Sparandara, head of workforce initiatives for JPMorgan Chase.

Learn more about the program and fellows.