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  • Writer's picturePatricia Salkin

Only One Lawyer Has Been at the Helm of a Community College in New York

When Dr. Michael Batson stepped down as President of Rockland County Community College (RCC) in New York in 2022 to become the President of Tri-C or Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio, New York lost its sole lawyer leading a community college.

Appointed to lead RCC in 2017, Batson was known as, “…a popular and accessible figure whose accomplishments include launching the Hospitality and Culinary Arts Center in Nyack, introducing a guided pathway academic school model, adding Career and English Skills Academies to address middle-skills workforce needs, to name a few.” Further, “Under his leadership, the college [has] secured $30 million in grants, capital, and other fundraising efforts, including back-to-back Title V Developing Hispanic-Serving Institution awards, the largest grants in RCC’s 62-year history.”

In announcing his appointment as President at RCC, Marty Wortendyke chairman of RCC's board of trustees, called him "a visionary and compassionate educational administrator." Prior to his appointment at RCC, Michael Baston was vice president of student affairs and associate provost at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, New York. Before that he was dean of student development and campus life at Berkeley College. A graduate of Brooklyn Law School, Batson began his career as an attorney representing various educational institutions and social justice organizations. His work with academic clients led him to pursue a second career in academics, both as a professor of legal studies and business and as a student affairs administrator. In addition to his JD, Batson holds an EdD from St. John Fisher College.

Today, Dr. Batson is chair of the Black Male CEO Educators network and a member of the American Association of Community Colleges Board of Directors, chairing its Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. In 2021, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Batson was selected to participate in the Education Design Lab as a Designer in Residence to reimagine the role of higher education in closing racial and economic opportunity gaps. Batson was also part of the inaugural class of Aspen Presidential Fellows.


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