Dr. Colleen Simpson will become Front Range Community College's first Black president

Luke Zarzecki
lzarzecki@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 5/12/22

Dr. Colleen Simpson will take the reins of Front Range Community College as their next president after current president Andy Dorsey retires on Aug. 1. 

According to a news release from …

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Dr. Colleen Simpson will become Front Range Community College's first Black president

Posted
Dr. Colleen Simpson will take the reins of Front Range Community College as its next president after current President Andy Dorsey retires Aug. 1. 
 
She will be FRCC's first Black president and the second Black woman president in the Colorado community college system, according to a news release.
 
“It's an incredible honor,” she said. 
 
Prior to landing in Colorado, Simpson was the administrator for retention and student success, academic affairs at Bronx Community College within the City University of New York system and vice president of student services and regional learning centers at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. In her past roles, she’s focused on removing barriers for students wanting to go to college, and she plans to continue that work.
 
“We want to make sure that all students have access and opportunity,” she said. 
 
Some of those barriers can be financial or based on academic backgrounds. She hopes that any applicant who is accepted to FRCC will end up graduating and earning a family-sustainable wage. 
Removing barriers will create a more inclusive environment, she said.
 
“Everyone has their own lived experiences and so how do you ensure that everyone has worth within the journey?" she said. "Whether it's the person who is for the first time learning about pronouns or learning about a new culture, how do you ensure that that person feels valid and validated so that the growth can continue?”
 
Simpson also noted her experience leading a Hispanic-serving institution. In New York City, the Bronx Community College was 50% Hispanic in the 1990s. That experience will benefit FRCC, she said. 
 
“We are in a time of growth here within the United States and also within community colleges where we're seeing a shift in our student demographics," she said. "The growth is within our Latinx community, and I want to ensure that Front Range is positioned so that success continues for our changing student demographics."
 
In addition to growth in certain populations, she also sees FRCC supporting economic growth within Colorado through education and job training. The skills students take from FRCC will hopefully benefit the surrounding communities. 
 
“The ultimate goal is that students will leave us better than when they started,” she said. 
 
Future challenges 
 
Declining enrollment is a challenge higher education faces all over the country, Simpson said, and she looks forward to overcoming that at FRCC. She calls for innovative solutions and engaging with students who aren’t going to community colleges. 
 
She sees academic excellence — a strength she thinks FRCC has — as a way to fix those issues.
 
“That tradition of excellence is going to ensure that we meet the changing needs of our students and the community,” she said. 
 
She comes to the job with excitement. 
 
“My purpose is to ensure that every student within that region knows that college is possible,” Simpson said. “I am committed to inspiring innovation, and more importantly, ensuring that we are advocating for an inclusive education for all students.”

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