Jane Karas, president of Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, Mont., was elected to serve as chair-elect of the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) board of directors beginning July 1. Karas will take over as chair of the AACC board of directors beginning July 1, 2013.
Karas’ election marks the first time Montana has had representation in a leadership position on the association’s board. Through her position, she hopes to provide a voice for rural community colleges and the unique issues faced by their students. She says it also will provide opportunities for FVCC.
“I’m excited for the college to receive more visibility at the national level,” said Karas. “This is also a great opportunity to be engaged at the forefront of community colleges as they continue to move into the future to better serve students.”
Throughout the next two years, Karas said she will be focused on working with the leadership of AACC to ensure community colleges meet the needs of students across the nation, throughout Montana, and locally.
“We will be looking at how we can continue to provide students new opportunities and access to affordable, high-quality education and enable them to achieve their completion goals,” she said.
AACC President and CEO Walter Bumphus said Karas falls in line with the organization’s long tradition of outstanding leaders selected as chair of the board.
“Jane’s experience as an exceptional leader of a great community college, her experience serving as chairperson of a very important AACC committee, and her most recent experience representing AACC with a delegation to China certainly positions her extremely well to serve as chair of the board in 2013,” said Bumphus. “The AACC board and staff look forward to working with Dr. Karas.”
Karas was elected to the AACC board to serve from 2010 to 2013 and currently sits on its Executive Committee and chairs the Committee of Program Initiatives and Workforce Training. She also serves as board liaison for Community Colleges for International Development. Some of Karas’s previous leadership roles have included president of Mountain States Association of Community Colleges and vice chair of the National Campus Compact Board.
Karas became the eleventh president of FVCC in 2001 after serving as vice president and dean of instruction and student services at the college. Prior to FVCC, she served as director for workforce development for Montana’s Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education.
Founded in 1920, the AACC has, over four decades, become the leading proponent and the national “voice for community colleges.” Headquartered in the National Center for Higher Education in Washington, D.C., AACC is the primary advocacy organization for community colleges at the national level and works closely with directors of state offices to inform and affect state policy. The association represents nearly 1,200 two-year, associate degree-granting institutions and more than 13 million students, as well as a growing number of international members in Puerto Rico, Japan, Great Britain, Korea, and the United Arab Emirates. The colleges are the largest and fastest-growing sector of U.S. higher education, enrolling close to half (46 percent) of all U.S. undergraduates.
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