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Anne Kress, Ph.D.

President, Monroe Community College

Focus Area: Transparency

Rochester, New York
Office Representing: President

Since 2009, Anne Kress has served as the president of Monroe Community College (MCC), a two-year college with two campuses and two centers. MCC is part of the State University of New York and serves more than 30,000 credit and non-credit students each year. Most are in programs leading to university transfer, but the college also plays a significant role in regional workforce training and economic development. As MCC's president, Kress also serves as the co-chair of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D-NY) Regional Economic Development Council, on the New York State Department of Health's Workforce Workgroup, and on the New York Federal Reserve Bank's Upstate Advisory Board. Before coming to MCC, Kress served as provost at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida, where she began as an English professor, served as department chair, and held administrative roles with responsibilities including institutional research, distance learning, instructional technology, and marketing.

How did you first get interested in or involved in higher education issues?:

"My interest in higher education issues has a very personal beginning," Kress said. "The trajectory of my family was changed because my father was able to use his G.I. Bill benefits at a technical school where he completed a short-term drafting certificate. With this credential, he started a career that moved my parents from transitory housing to home ownership and greater stability. I attended college as a first-generation student who bootstrapped scholarships, loans, part-time and full-time jobs, and tuition waivers to complete two bachelor's degrees, a master's, and a doctorate at a public research university. Over this time, I could see and feel how changes in state and federal policy directly impacted my ability to afford college. When I began my community college career, I saw firsthand how the funding and regulation of this sector differed dramatically from that of the research university sector. More significantly, I saw the impact of these differences on community college students: how those who most often came to higher education with the greatest needs were accorded the least attention and resources. My shift from teaching faculty to administrator was largely driven by my desire to do more to advocate for community colleges, our students and their needs."

Why did you apply to be a part of the Forward50? What drew you to this opportunity?:

"Over the past decade, our colleges have been pushed to focus on student success and outcomes with the assumption that the access mission of higher education has been achieved. Yet, increasingly, we see that this assumption is wrong," Kress said. "The way we have thought about access and affordability has not captured the real cost of college for real students. I applied to join the Forward50 to help drive changes in policy and advocacy around a more comprehensive understanding of college affordability, one that considered the full cost of college for a changing student demographic: tuition, fees, books, supplies, housing, food, utilities, transportation, child care, time, and more. I also wanted to be part of a group that looked to the future of higher education, not the past. Gone are the days when a bachelor's degree—completed in four years right out of high school—was the single pathway. The future of credentialing is more complex and confusing—with multiple on-ramps and off-ramps that require innovative financial models and modeling. The Forward50 has an opportunity to map this new higher education highway and recommend the funding infrastructure that will help a more diverse population of students travel securely to their destinations."

Leadership roles with professional associations:

  • American Association of Community Colleges (AACC): Current Board of Directors Member, Past Executive Committee Member, Past Chair of Committee on Director and Member Services, Past Co-Chair of Commission on Academic Pathways, Past Co-Chair of Commission on Research, Technology and Emerging Trends
  • Community College Humanities Association (CCHA): Current Board Member
  • League for Innovation in the Community College (Phoenix, AZ): Current Board Member, Past Board Chair, Current Chair of Site Visit Committees

Membership(s) held with other professional associations:

  • Association of American Colleges and Universities Presidents (AAC&U Presidents)
  • Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT)
  • American Council on Education (ACE)
  • Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Higher Education Working Group