WCCC’s Austin Earns National Award

Dr. Will Austin, President of Warren County Community College.

Warren County Community College President Dr. Will Austin has been named the recipient of the AAUA (American Association of University Administrators) McInnis/Ryan Award for his achievement in Mid-Career Higher Education Leadership.

Dr. Austin has been the President of WCCC for the past 11 years. Scott Newman of Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology is a co-recipient.

Dr. Austin will be honored with other recipients at the 2016 AAUA Leadership’s National Seminar in June in San Antonio, TX at the organization’s annual event, this year titled, “Risky Business: Coping with Today’s Realities and Tomorrow’s Potentialities.”

“I am honored beyond words,” said Dr. Austin, who became the youngest community college president when he was hired as a 33-year-old administrator by WCCC 11 years ago. “I know that there are a lot of great administrators out there who are deserving as well. This award is not just about me. It’s about the people I work with on a daily basis – the professors, board of trustees, staff – those folks who make a vision become a reality for our students.”

The mission of the AAUA is to develop and advance superior standards for the profession of higher education administration.  Through its policy statements, programs, and services AAUA emphasizes the responsibility of administrators, at all levels, to demonstrate moral and ethical leadership in the exercise of all their duties.

Dr. Austin certainly has lived up to the standards of the organization, making him a quality choice for this award.

“Dr. Austin epitomizes how an educational leader can be both honorable and compassionate in his guidance of Warren County Community College,” said Peter Schmidt, Chair of the WCCC Board of Trustees. “This national recognition demonstrates that he is one of Warren County’s most valuable assets and the college Board of Trustees joins me in celebrating this great honor for Dr. Austin.”

Dr. Austin’s track record of success at the college, as well as nationally on various platforms, has been outstanding and recognized thusly by numerous organizations. Most recently Dr. Austin assumed the role as Chairman of the American Association of Community College’s President’s Academy. The Academy, the leading national organization for established and new community college presidents, spearheads educational, development, and guidance opportunities as college executives keep up with trends in the industry.

As President and CEO of WCCC, Dr. Austin has dramatically changed the landscape of the college and its relationship to the community at-large: essentially doubled the credit enrollment, doubled the non-credit enrollment, and increased the physical footprint and space of the college by over 130%.  And WCCC continues its growth. In December 2010, the NJ Governor’s Task Force on Higher Education identified WCCC as the NJ Community College with the highest graduation rates in the state; WCCC remains among the best in graduation rates in the state.

With Dr. Austin’s guidance, WCCC has initiated significant partnerships with senior institutions allowing for completion of Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees on campus from multiple providers, including FDU, UMDNJ, William Paterson University, Felician College, and Seton Hall University; partnered with Fire Academy to become sole provider of educational services to participants, initiated a Police Academy (satellite branch) on the campus, and initiated an EMS/EMT training program (both non-credit and degreed); and led the development and approval process of an Associate’s nursing program (RN), first approved in NJ in over 20 years, which received initial NLNAC accreditation prior to outcomes of first graduating class.

Arguably Dr. Austin’s most significant accomplishment at WCCC is the VIPER program. Veterans in Pursuit of Educational Readiness has gained national attention for its ability to let veterans seamlessly gain their associates degrees. VIPER, in fact, has been highlighted on Fox News and public television, and has been recognized publicly by the Warren County Board of Chosen Freeholders as a major asset to the community. Under Dr. Austin the school also started a Creative Writing program, making WCCC one of only a handful of schools around the country to offer a 2-year degree in Creative Writing. The Workforce Investment Program at WCCC is considered the best in creating jobs in Northwest Jersey and the Continuing Education program as a whole has met the challenges and needs of the population of Warren County, assisting hundreds of businesses and individuals in the process.

In December 2006, Community College Week first recognized WCCC as one of the nation’s top 20 fastest growing community colleges. WCCC remains one of the steadiest community colleges for enrollment in the U.S.

In addition to his leadership position at WCCC, Dr. Austin also remains active in other related activities. He teaches undergraduate, Masters, and Doctorate level classes, chairs dissertations, develops graduate syllabi on college finance, and has written two books, one for students on finances, and another on strategic planning

Dr. Austin previously served at Gloucester County (NJ) Community College (Vice President of Student Services), Salem County (NJ) Community College (Executive Assistant to the President for Advancement, Planning & Academic Effectiveness and Executive Director of the College Foundation), and Burlington County (NJ) Community College Institutional Research & Planning Specialist, accomplishing numerous goals at each. He has been an Adjunct Professor or Guest Lecturer at various colleges, both 2-and 4-year institutions, including Rutgers University, Temple University, and Nova Southeastern University.

Dr. Austin is immersed in the community at-large, having recently served on many community boards over the years. In addition, Dr. Austin has been honored as a “Good Scout” Award Recipient,  Boy Scouts of America, Central New Jersey Council, President’s Award, Warren/Sussex NAACP,  Mallencrodt Baker Silver Tray for Volunteerism, to name a few.


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