WARWICK, RI– Thursday, Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) President Meghan Hughes announced she’ll step down Aug. 31, saying “the time is right,” for new leadership at the institution, headquartered at its Knight Campus at 400 East Ave.
“Serving as CCRI’s president has been the greatest professional honor of my lifetime, and I am profoundly grateful to all the faculty, staff, students, and broader Rhode Island community members who have taught me so much and who continue to inspire me daily,” said Dr. Hughes. “I believe the time is right to transition the college to new presidential leadership by summer’s end as CCRI is strong and continuing to grow ever stronger. We have largely emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic, our enrollment continues to recover each semester, and we are laser focused on supporting strong student learning outcomes. Our commitment to creating equitable access and delivering outstanding credentials that lead to quality employment and seamless transfer is powerfully advanced every day across all four campuses, and I have full confidence in our faculty, staff, and administrators to continue advancing this work.”
The Council on Postsecondary Education is expected to announce plans for an interim president by its April 19 meeting.
“I speak on behalf of the entire Council on Postsecondary Education when I say how much we will miss Dr. Hughes’ passion and commitment to the CCRI community,” said David Caprio, Esq., Chair of the Council on Postsecondary Education. “Her transformational leadership has profoundly impacted countless lives and elevated CCRI to one of the best community colleges in the nation.”
Even without her hand on the reins at CCRI, Hughes won’t be idle. She chairs the Board of Directors for the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce and serves on the Board of Directors of the Rhode Island Foundation and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. She also serves as a member on the Council on Competitiveness, the College Board’s Community College Advisory Panel, Congressman David Cicilline’s Women’s Advisory Council, and the Rhode Island Commodores.
In a message to the CCRI Community, Hughes elaborated on her decision to step down.
“At the heart of my decision to step down is my desire to spend a few months dedicating my time to my family, especially my mother. She taught me to read more than fifty years ago and dedicated most of her life to me and my family. I want to make the most of this time. I will also take some time to reflect upon what my next professional chapter looks like, and while I am always excited about what lies ahead, I know already, with certainty, that there is no more rewarding job in this world than being part of a community college.”
According to the announcement of Hughes’ resignation posted to CCRI’s website, Hughes, the fifth president of CCRI, and the first female president, led the college as it achieved the highest graduation rates in more than 20 years, outpacing national two-and three-year graduation rates, and was named the 2019 two-year college of the year by Education Dive magazine.
Hughes advocated for the creation of a free college tuition program at CCRI, now a model for similar programs across the country. Since the program launched in 2017, the RI Promise Scholarship program resulted in dramatic improvements in enrollment and graduation rates for students, in particular for low income students and students of color.
Led by Hughes, CCRI’s partnerships with government and industry have transformed the labor market landscape through collaborative building of in-demand credentials that allow Rhode Islanders to receive the training needed to compete in today’s economy and provide a pipeline of qualified employees for businesses. CCRI’s Division of Workforce Partnerships trains more than 4,000 Rhode Island residents annually in short-term, labor-market driven credentials and is the leading educational partner for General Dynamics Electric Boat for its submarine building facilities in New London, CT and Quonset, RI. CCRI is also poised to launch the state’s first GWO training program in support of multiple offshore wind farms expected to be constructed in the coming years.
Her leadership was recognized by fellow Rhode Island leaders following word of her resignation.
“Since 2016, Dr. Meghan Hughes has been a tremendous leader at one of our state’s most important institutions of higher learning. Thanks to Dr. Hughes, CCRI has developed robust partnerships across the public and private sectors, preparing thousands of Rhode Islanders for good jobs. I’m so grateful for Dr. Hughes’ abiding commitment to academic excellence, equity, and inclusion, and I look forward to seeing what she chooses to do in this next phase of her career,” said Rep. Seth Magaziner (RI-02).
“President Hughes has been a bold, visionary leader at CCRI,” said Gov. Dan McKee. “From making community college more accessible, to increasing graduation rates, and working together to create innovative job training partnerships in key sectors like offshore wind, President Hughes has been a true partner on our team and a key part of our Administration’s work to strengthen our state’s higher education ecosystem.”
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