Alison Dunlap Photography
Felicia Ganther, President of Bucks County Community College
When Felicia Ganther, President of Bucks County Community College, worked in the Maricopa County Community College System in Arizona, she identified a critical problem. Specifically, she recognized that male students of color – African-American, Latino, and American Indian – were “literally disappearing from the college landscape at alarming rates.” Felicia had the idea to revamp the minority male initiative at the college and succeeded in an increase in retention and graduation rates by more than 50%. This kind of change is life-altering but Felicia knew she could do more. She wanted to bring her ideas to other institutions so that they, too, could benefit from her ideas. She applied the same skill and inventive ideas to the problems that BCCC faced, “a $7.5M deficit as a result of 50% enrollment decline.” Our local BCCC students and community are reaping the benefits.
We asked Felicia
Tell us a time when you accomplished something that you felt really made a difference to the people you hoped to serve and which makes you proud?
What makes me proud is that the work I did in Maricopa has been used and implemented by other community colleges and universities to help their male students of color. It’s great that I could help those students at my colleges who are in my programs. Yet, it is much more impactful if other colleges can use proven success strategies to help their students with the same fervor. That means thousands of students and their families, across our nation, are realizing their dreams.
What surprised you in your organization’s history, pleasantly or unpleasantly?
Neither unpleasant or pleasant, it is 2021 and this is the first time the college has had a person of color as the president.
What are your plans for BCCC?
First and foremost, to ensure that our college is very relevant in an overcrowded higher education landscape in Pennsylvania. Second, to make sure that every student who walks through our doors realizes their educational and/or career goals. Third, to be a premier partner within our community, to address issues impacting our community. Finally, to increase enrollment and get the institution financially situated to be able to take on more innovative initiatives that will improve the lives of the people in our community.
As a working woman, what is the one organizational tool that you can’t live without?
Interpersonal Communication. If you can’t develop dyadic relationships with the people you work for, work with, or who work for you…it’s a bust! This is a skill set that is often overlooked by leaders who are moving up their career ladder. Its great you know how to present publicly, you can send out emails, write superb documents…BUT..if you can’t talk with, emotionally connect to, and find commonality with each individual you are working with…those other shiny skills don’t matter.
What in your life do you NOT spend time on?
Things you cannot control. If you think about it, we spend an exorbitant amount of mental and emotional energy on trying to control things that are not in our control. What I have learned over the years is that I can only manage and direct the things that are within my control.
The best piece of advice that a mentor gave to you?
“Felicia, you are always trying to see the best in everyone and you trust them with everything. There are many who do not have good intentions and cannot be trusted. You don’t have to curb your optimism, but you must protect it. Verify before you trust. Evaluate before you sign on.” ~Darl Drummond