Meghan Hughes, Ph.D., Announces Departure from CCRI
President Hughes oversaw transformation of the community college and the implementation of a model free community college program
Dr. Meghan Hughes, President of the Community College of Rhode Island since 2016, has announced today that she will step down from her position, effective August 31, 2023.
As the 5th president of CCRI, and the first female president, Dr. Hughes is recognized as a higher education visionary who led the transformation at the community college with an unwavering focus on student success and a commitment to providing Rhode Islanders with an outstanding education that leads to strong learning outcomes, successful degree attainment, and robust labor market opportunities. Dr. Hughes has placed closing equity performance gaps at the center of her work. Under her leadership, the college 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.
Dr. Hughes fiercely advocated for the creation of a free college tuition program at CCRI, which has become 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 Dr. 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.
Creating an inclusive, diverse and anti-racist college community has been a leading priority for Dr. Hughes. During her tenure, the college created the first ever Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Organizational Development and reformed how the college attracts, hires, and retains a diverse talent of faculty and staff.
Dr. Hughes will complete her service at CCRI after successfully leading the College through the challenges of the pandemic and building a strong leadership team that will continue to position the college for future success in providing thousands of Rhode Islanders access to an affordable, high-quality education.
“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.
“President Hughes has been a bold, visionary leader at CCRI,” said Governor 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."
"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."
“We wish Meghan Hughes all the best in her future endeavors, and we are certain she will be successful based on her achievements while serving Rhode Islanders as the president of the Community College of Rhode Island,” said Shannon Gilkey, Ed.D., Rhode Island’s Commissioner of Postsecondary Education. “On behalf of the Council on Postsecondary Education, I thank Dr. Hughes for her years of valued service to public higher education in our state and share our deep appreciation for her leadership. Dr. Hughes has been a relentless champion of CCRI and it showed in everything she did as president. Immediately, the council will begin the process to fill the vacancy at the college’s helm and will seek candidates with high caliber academic and institutional management experience who will prepare Rhode Islanders with high quality degrees and certifications required to be successful in the modern economy.”
Dr. Hughes 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. In addition, she 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.
Dr. Hughes is an Aspen Institute Fellow for Community College Excellence. She was presented with the “Trailblazer in Education” award in 2018 at the Realizing Inspiration & Sustaining Excellence Women’s Leadership Conference. Hughes was recognized by the Latino Public Radio Foundation with its Foundation Builder Award in 2016 and by the Rhode Island Foundation with its Community Leader award in 2015. In 2014, U.S. Rep. David Cicilline named Hughes an Outstanding Woman of the Year.
The Council on Postsecondary Education is expected to announce plans for an interim president by the April 19 meeting.