The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) has named Colleen Simpson, Ed.D., GSE ’14, as the next president of Front Range Community College (FRCC) in Colorado. She will be the first African American to lead the college. Simpson brings years of experience and expertise to the role in enrollment management, student affairs, academic affairs, teaching, and leadership of multi-campuses and regional learning centers. Most recently, she was the Vice President of Student Services and Regional Learning Centers at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and has served as the administrator overseeing retention and student success at Bronx Community College (CUNY).
A product of the Caribbean and New York City public school system, Simpson graduated from Adlai E. Stevenson High School in the Bronx and received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from CUNY’s Baruch College. She credits her public education with her resiliency and drive to be competitive.
After working in education for almost 15 years, the late Dr. Carolyn Williams, former Bronx Community College president, encouraged Simpson to consider getting her doctorate and put her in touch with the late Barbara Jackson, Ed.D., at the Fordham Graduate School of Education. In her meeting with Jackson, Simpson recounts that Jackson asked her two questions: “Are you staying in education for the money? Or are you going to stay in education because you want to live a life of purpose? If you want to live a life of purpose, then Fordham is where you need to be. You will learn about leadership and policy, but you will also self-reflect on where do you want to take this skillset in education.”
The answer was clear. Simpson chose to continue her education at Fordham GSE and continue working toward living a life of purpose by breaking down barriers for students. She reflects: “My time at Fordham challenged me to think about education differently. We were on the cusp of an influx of diverse K-12 students across various districts in NYC, which fueled my desire to understand an important question: How do we become a student-ready institution? Not college-ready, but student-ready? My work at Fordham challenged me to think about how to advocate for and ensure that we remove barriers for underrepresented students so they can have access and opportunity for success.”
At FRCC, Simpson is excited to amplify her commitment to students first, excellence in teaching and learning, and equitable outcomes for students, faculty, and instructors. Sheldon “Shelly” Marcus, Ed.D., who mentored Simpson and other GSE doctoral students for 52 years, says, “Dr. Simpson “is not only bright, but she also has a wonderful and effective way of communicating. Her leadership skills are extraordinary… FRCC students and staff are indeed fortunate to have her as their leader.”
Simpson herself views community colleges and public schools as institutions that can translate opportunities for students by providing education, training, and the opportunity to earn sustainable family wages. “The beauty of community colleges is that they provide access points, hope, and transformation for students who may not have seen themselves in college. I see it as my role to continue to inspire and advocate for this type of student.” She also notes that it is vitally important to make students feel confident in their ability to complete the course work. “By offering courses that lead to a career path, and integrating different modalities into teaching to make them accessible to students who work, we can support students who may not have otherwise seen college as an achievable milestone.”
“Dr. Simpson knows what it takes to run a successful multi-campus institution and is constantly finding new ways to support and engage students, employees, and the college community,” said Chancellor Joe Garcia of the CCCS. “Her commitment to access and inclusion will strengthen the college and ensure we meet the needs of the Front Range region, home to many of Colorado’s emerging industries. We are thrilled to have her join our leadership team.”