AGB Institute Announces 2020 Graduating Class

Contact: Andrea Hansen, 509-306-1867,

Institute prepares cohort members to serve as institution presidents

Washington, D.C., September 18, 2020 – The AGB Institute for Leadership & Governance in Higher Education has announced the graduation of its 2020 class, with a ceremony at the conclusion of the program’s closing symposium held virtually this week. Seventeen participants successfully completed the rigorous six-month institute, especially notable in the face of COVID-19, which has had severe impacts on higher education.

AGB, AGB Search and the University at Albany (SUNY) School of Education created the institute to bolster the pipeline of qualified, diverse presidential candidates and prepare participants for the rigors of institutional leadership. The program is composed of two symposia, four monthly webinars, attendance at the AGB National Conference on Trusteeship and a shadowing experience with a sitting president. The institute features more than 30 higher education expert presenters including current and former presidents, trustees, search consultants and other sector professionals.

The graduates of the Class of 2020 (Cohort 2) are:

Dr. Simone Cummings
Dean, George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology
Webster University

Mr. Kenneth Daly
St. Thomas Aquinas College

Dr. Karen Ferguson
Provost and Vice President of Strategic Development
Colorado State University Global Campus

Dr. Jeanine Gangeness
Associate Vice President

Dr. Junius Gonzales
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
New York Institute of Technology 

Dr. Martino Harmon
Vice President for Student Life
University of Michigan

Dr. Brian Haynes
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
University of California Riverside

Dr. Walter McCollum
Campus Vice President
Miami Dade College Online

Dr. Felicia McGinty
Executive Vice Chancellor for Administration & Planning
Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Dr. Anna Ponder
Vice Chancellor for Advancement
University of South Carolina Beaufort

 Dr. David Rehm
Vice President of Academic Affairs
Misericordia University

Dr. Karen Riley
Dean of the Morgridge College of Education and Strategic Director of Health Initiatives
University of Denver

Dr. David Smith
Assistant Provost and Associate Professor
National Intelligence University – Bethesda, MD

Dr. Terrell Strayhorn
Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs; Director of the Center for the Study of HBCUs
Virginia Union University

Dr. Scott Thomas
Dean, College of Education & Social Services; Interim Dean, College of Nursing & Health Sciences
University of Vermont

Dr. Keith Whitfield
University of Nevada-Las Vegas

Dr. Jake Zhu
Dean, Palm Desert Campus
California State University San Bernardino

Research shows that the average tenure of college presidents in their current positions was six-and-a-half years in 2016, down from about seven years in 2011 and an average of eight-and-a-half years in 2006. The data suggest that a larger pool of qualified leaders is needed to meet the demands of the higher education sector. The presidency itself is also transforming, with more emphasis placed on technology, fundraising and the changing student demographic.

“It is often the case that prospective presidents arrive at their new appointment eager to serve but inexperienced at the wide range of challenges they will encounter,” Dr. Nancy Zimpher, director of the institute, said. “Our goal is nothing short of a job-ready cohort of tomorrow’s leaders, ready to lead today.”

Out of the institute’s two cohorts, five graduates have been appointed to presidencies:

  • Lynn Mahoney (Class of 2019), appointed president of San Francisco State University
  • Felecia Nave (Class of 2019), appointed president of Alcorn State University
  • James Lentini (Class of 2019), appointed president of Molloy College
  • Tim Taylor (Class of 2019), appointed president of Shawnee Community College
  • Keith Whitfield (Class of 2020), appointed president of University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Mahoney praised the institute for helping to prepare her for the new role. “The opportunity to learn from national leaders in higher education and to benefit from the experience of current presidents and board members was invaluable.”

The AGB Institute for Leadership and Governance will begin its next class in June 2021 and is currently accepting applications. To learn more about the institute, visit

Posted on 09.18.2020