Michael Baston

President, Rockland Community College

Tuesday, June 7
Opening Plenary  | 8:30–10:00 AM



Michael A. Baston is a national thought leader amplifying the role community colleges play in redefining educational success, leading diversity, equity, and inclusion campus-wide reform efforts, and developing executive leadership teams. Dr. Baston has led Rockland Community College in Suffern, New York, as its president since 2017. Under his leadership, RCC launched a Hospitality and Culinary Arts Center, a new guided pathway influenced academic school model, Career and English Skills Academies to address middle-skills workforce needs, and secured $30 million in grant, capital, and other fundraising efforts, including back-to-back Title V Developing Hispanic-Serving Institution awards. Dr. Baston’s Steps Beyond Statements Initiative has helped to signal specific steps that educational institutions can take to foster inclusive excellence. 

Dr. Baston is the chairman of the Black Male CEO Educators network and is on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), where he also serves as Chair for their Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. He is co-chair of Jobs For The Future’s Policy Leadership Trust, a member of the National Advisory Board of the Center for Community College Student Engagement and served as Designer in Residence for Education Design Lab. In 2021, he was named a Complete College America Fellow, and also joined the Community College Workforce Coalition, Recently, Dr. Baston was elected to the Board of Trustees for Teachers College, Columbia University. He also serves as the Chair, NYS Student Success Center Coaching Academy.

As a national Guided Pathways and Equity Transfer Initiative coach for the American Association of Community Colleges, he is noted for his work with two- and four-year college leadership teams around the nation, helping them integrate student success initiatives to advance college completion and labor market entry success. Dr. Baston also serves as a faculty advisor for Aspen Institute’s Community College Excellence New President Fellowship program, mentoring new community college presidents as they explore systemic issues affecting the educational access pipeline and student success. 

Dr. Baston’s work has been featured on MSNBC and in USA Today, The Atlantic, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Community College Daily, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, The Community College Times, and Black Enterprise Magazine. Additionally, he is a contributing author to Race, Education, and Reintegrating Formerly Incarcerated Citizens and The Handbook for Student Affairs in Community Colleges. Dr. Baston received the National Council on Student Development’s Terry O’Banion Gold Prize in 2015 and the NAACP Community Leadership Award in 2010.

Dr. Baston began his career as a public interest lawyer representing various educational institutions and social justice organizations. His work with academic clients led him to a career in academia as both a professor of legal studies and business, and as a student affairs administrator. Prior to serving as President of Rockland Community College, Dr. Baston was Vice President for Student Affairs and Associate Provost at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, NY. 

Dr. Baston holds a B.A. from Iona College, a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School, and an Ed.D from St. John Fisher College.

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