May 5, 2021— Denver—Today, Colorado Community College System (CCCS) Chancellor Joe Garcia announced the selection of Dr. Mordecai Brownlee as the next president of Community College of Aurora (CCA).
Dr. Brownlee will assume the presidency on July 15, 2021. He will succeed Dr. Betsy Oudenhoven, who announced in October that she was retiring at the end of July concluding a decade of leading the institution and a remarkable 42-year career in higher education.
Dr. Brownlee, an inclusive educator who is committed to the intellectual and economic empowerment of diverse communities, brings an impressive resume in advancing student access, expanding student support services, and empowering academic pathways at several public and private higher education institutions, including St. Philip's College in Texas, the University of Charleston in West Virginia, Blinn College District in Texas, and Houston Baptist University.
Upon his announcement, Dr. Brownlee called it an honor to lead an institution so steeped in inclusive excellence and guided by the vision of ensuring that every student it serves succeeds.
“I am immensely grateful to Chancellor Garcia, and CCA’s faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community supporters for the opportunity to serve this distinguished institution as its president,” said Dr. Brownlee. “Raised by a single-mother who was an educator, I learned first-hand the importance of faith, hard work, sacrifice, and the responsibility we have as educators to empower the minds and lives of students through equitable learning environments and ample student support. CCA is an institution that has embraced this charge and as its president, every day I will be committed to serving as an example of the institution’s mission in action.”
Dr. Brownlee rose to the top of a field of impressive candidates during the nationwide search process. The nine-member search advisory committee carefully screened over 80 high quality applicants and conducted open forums to actively engage the community.
“We wanted someone with an entrepreneurial spirit who would expand CCA’s reach and partnerships, and experience in strategic enrollment management who will be able to reverse the declines in students and revenues facing the institution during these challenging times. CCCS’s goals of diversity, equity and inclusion also called for someone who will champion learning environments that promote student success for Aurora’s growing and increasingly diverse communities,” said Garcia. “Without a doubt, that candidate was Dr. Brownlee. His impressive background and progressive leadership style make him the best fit to advance CCA’s vision, mission, and values.”
Currently, Dr. Brownlee serves as vice president for student success at St. Philip's College, the only college in the nation federally designated as both a historically Black college (HBCU) and a Hispanic-serving institution (HSI), located in San Antonio, Texas. During his tenure, Dr. Brownlee championed strategic enrollment and student success initiatives that led St. Philip’s to record enrollment and four of their largest degree and certificate awarding classes in the college’s 123-year history.
Throughout his career in higher education, Dr. Brownlee raised millions for student scholarships and academic programs – some of which went to new programs designed to retool individuals to fill high-demand employment opportunities. He has also played an instrumental role in securing several multi-million-dollar capital construction projects.
In his spare time, Dr. Brownlee serves as an adjunct professor at Morgan State University School of Education & Urban Studies and the University of Charleston School of Business and Leadership where he teaches business management, human resources, social justice, and community college leadership. He also dedicates time as a columnist and nationally recognized speaker covering a broad range of critical higher education topics including education technology; financial literacy and student debt; community college innovation; progressive legislation; and diversity, equity and inclusion.
Among his many accolades, Dr. Brownlee was twice awarded the Trusted Leaders Award by the faculty and staff of St. Philip’s College and in 2018 received the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Excellence Award. Recently, EdTech Magazine featured him as one of the 30 most interesting voices in higher education who are shaping the conversation around technology and education.
Dr. Brownlee’s service on community, state, and national boards includes serving as the director of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Community College Institute; Co-Founder of the Rising Leaders Institute for the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education (AABHE), member of the My Brother’s Keeper White House Initiative in San Antonio, Community College Chair of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), ApplyTX Advisory Council, and a member of the 100 Black Men of America, Inc. He is also a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Alex Schultz, Director - Communications and Marketing
About the Community College of Aurora (CCA)
The Community College of Aurora (CCA) provides high-quality instruction and student support services to Aurora and Denver, Colorado. The college offers courses on two campuses, online and through its high school concurrent-enrollment program, helping students prepare for employment or transfer to a four-year institution. For more information, visit www.ccaurora.edu.