Posted:August 17, 2017
When Angelia Millender first set foot on Century College’s campus, the message displayed at the front entrance resonated immediately. “It said ‘Your Bridge to Success,’ and that is exactly what I have spent my career doing – serving in and leading open-access institutions that further the vital goal of helping students bridge the equity and achievement gaps so that they can achieve at higher levels,” says Millender.
Finding a Perfect Fit
The nationwide search for Century College’s new president that brought Millender to the campus for the first time lasted two years and included a wide range of stakeholders including students, faculty, staff, and community leaders, along with leaders from the Minnesota State system. Together, the group set out to find a leader who could meet the College’s unique needs.
“We wanted a leader who could work collaboratively with students, faculty, staff, and community members to deliver on the College’s strategic plan and its promise to eliminate the racial achievement gap; create clear, supported pathways to transfer and employment; provide integrated support; and align and evaluate the College and its resources to meet these goals,” says Steven Rosenstone, former Chancellor of the Minnesota State system.
In Millender, the search committee saw an experienced executive leader known for her track record of championing diversity and cultural competence. “Angelia Millender is that leader who will inspire others to follow her passion, work as a team, take Century College to new heights, and deliver results – particularly in the area of equity and inclusion,” says Rosenstone.
Since 2014, Millender had served as president of Olive-Harvey College in Chicago, Illinois. Under her leadership, the college implemented high-impact strategies that dramatically improved the graduation rate, the number of graduates earning credentials of value, and the number of students transitioning from remediation to college-ready. In addition, the college completed major improvements to student learning and student spaces, secured multi-million dollar grants from the Department of Education to support STEM programming for underrepresented students, and acquired $3.5 million in equipment and scholarships by leveraging industry partnerships.
Previously, Millender served at Florida’s Broward College as district vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, Berkeley College in New York as campus operations officer/dean of student development and external affairs, and Robert Morris University as vice president of student services, dean of student services, director of career planning and placement, and as a member of the faculty. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Chicago State University and a master’s from National Louis University in Illinois.
A Dedicated Campus Advocate
According to Century College’s Academic Affairs Dean Jesse Mason, Millender’s experience exemplifies the qualities he was looking for during the search process including outstanding leadership skills, a history of championing equity and diversity, and a strong ability to advocate for the College’s students and employees. “As a leader, Angelia is all those things and more – she is innovative, motivating, and authentic,” says Mason. “In addition to her understanding of the core needs of the College’s students and employees, she brings a wealth of experience and accomplishments that will enhance our College, community, and state.”Student representatives also believe Millender will be a strong advocate for their success.
Millender says helping Century College’s students achieve success will be at the heart of all she does. “I felt an immediate connection with the Century College students,” says Millender. “Through many conversations, I’ve seen that our students are outstanding and that they possess a true desire to be better than they are today, and I share that vision with them.”
Strengthening Community Connections
Just weeks into her term, Millender had already been busy building the community connections she greatly values – meeting with mayors, attending community gatherings, and reaching out to local leaders. “We want Century College to be known in the community and to be part of this community,” says Millender. “I’m eager to learn how we can help and support them, and to see how much further we can go when we work even more closely together.”
Local school officials are enthusiastic about Millender and her commitment to collaboration. “I was looking for a president who had experience bridging the connection between K-12 education and higher education,” says Christine Osorio, Superintendent of Minnesota School District 622. “President Millender brings a strong passion for strengthening this connection and ensuring students get an early start with college and technical career pathways – she understands how our institutions must work together to ensure seamless and successful transitions.”
A Vision of Progress
Going forward, Millender plans to work closely with the College community to shape a vision that will propel Century College – and most importantly, its students – towards and even brighter future. “Century College already has a spirit of risk taking and bold initiatives that I really love, and that is what I want us to continue to focus on,” says Millender. “I intend to work with everyone here to create our vision together – one that moves us toward our shared goal of even greater student retention and student success.”