Daniel J. Phelan, Ph.D. has served as president and CEO of Jackson College, Michigan since April 2001. He has extensive experience and training in community college governance and has served on, and held leadership positions on, a wide variety of public and private organization boards. (Jackson College utilizes the Policy Governance Model created by John Carver).
Navigating the rough waters of college governance is not for the faint hearted. But Dan Phelan is not faint hearted. He honed his philosophy and skills as an Iowa farm boy and uses the farm as a delightful metaphor to herd his ideas about governance through institutional pastures. He wins a blue ribbon at the community college fair for this elegantly written, substantive book on governance that is a joy to read.
In The Community College Board 2.0: Covenant Governance, Dan Phelan uses lessons from his youth on the farm, combined with college observations, research, and his extensive and effective leadership experience to provide valuable insights and recommendations to improve college governance. The idea of a Governance Trial and the concept of Covenant Governance are explained using recent examples and understandable analysis. This publication is a wonderful resource for trustees and CEOs who are serious about improving college governance
Student success is a long-term strategy that requires highly effective organizations with a commitment to innovation and collaboration by both the Board and the Chief Executive. Today’s dynamic environment reveals the critical mandate of “Covenant Governance” to achieve this. Dan’s insight, research, and farming analogy make a strong statement and enjoyable reading.
Daniel Phelan reminds us of our joint responsibility as trustees and CEOs to remember stewardship over self and opportunity. Effective governing is based on forward-thinking and requires evolution and change “with purpose.” The analogy of the big rocks provides the lens through which we travel on a journey of trust, commitment, and structure and, in doing so, affect the type of governance that can occur when the board and CEO commit to a binding promise of governing.
Community colleges have held fast to providing access to higher education for all Americans. Access is and will remain a core tenet of the community college. But, is it enough? The answer is no. The world around us has changed and so have the needs of our students and communities. Phelan’s work diligently outlines ways in which community college boards of trustees and CEOs can refocus and reframe the policy and administrative commitment to student success -- without which we will not be able to eliminate the equity gaps in attainment. As a beacon of opportunity for many seeking a better life, community colleges boards of trustees and their CEOs must collaborate in new and more effective ways, continuing to evolve, and recommit themselves to student success for all students. This book challenges us to do just that -- lead and govern with purposeful intent. I urge you take up that challenge.
The Community College Board 2.0: Covenant Governance breaks new ground in both the understanding of and practice of exemplary governance. A deeply experienced CEO on both the local, state, and national levels, Phelan embarks on a critical examination of community college governance with an eye toward the future and the ever-changing role of colleges. Applying principles of “design thinking”, Phelan makes a compelling case for how boards can improve to address the evolving landscape and reach higher levels of performance.
Dr. Phelan’s newest book, The Community College Board 2.0: Covenant Governance could not be more timely. Through the use of his farming metaphor, Dr. Phelan articulates a clear, compelling message to all of us involved with community college governance as we address the pressures of swimming upstream in unknown waters.
As a granddaughter of farmers, I share Dr. Phelan’s view that stewarding a successful farm is a model for effective governance of America’s community colleges. Both require a committed, long-term partnership in the service of others. Like farmers, trustees and community college leaders are custodians of something bigger than themselves and must weather good times and bad with perseverance. Covenant Governance provides trustees and CEOs with the principles and practices we need to improve America’s community colleges, particularly in light of change in almost all aspects of life and learning.