Dr. Robert Templin
Aspen Institute Senior Fellow
NC State Community College Executive in Residence
Distinguished 2002 NCSU College of Education Alumnus
I started out as a community college student, and after earning my bachelor’s degree I returned to my local community college to begin my career. I was planning to complete my graduate studies and have a career in the foreign service and/or to be a university professor when a conversation with my community college president changed my mind. I chose to focus my future efforts on community college leadership.
My time in the College of Education at NC State helped me to see the community college as an instrument of social change rather than simply as an institution that was worthwhile for its own sake. I saw that the role of leader in the community college might be that of a catalyst for positive social change in the lives of individuals, their families, and communities. Using this concept of the community college as a positive catalyst, the colleges where I have been president have assisted thousands of families in moving out of poverty and into self-sufficiency. These colleges helped communities face uncertain economic futures and develop new sustainable economies.
There was a great community of learners around me at NC State that created a sense of optimism about the future and the impact we would have as leaders. The full benefit of my COE education was not felt until I was well along in my career and I came to draw upon the deeper learning I had experienced there.
Today, the world is changing very rapidly. The fundamentals of the economy and the growing diversity of our population pose significant challenges to maintaining our economic competitiveness and quality of life. The basics of leading a community college tomorrow will be significantly more challenging than they were 10 years ago. Leadership can be extremely demanding but very rewarding if your goal is to make a difference. Good leadership does make a difference. And, good leaders are very much needed in America’s community colleges.
We are witnessing the largest changing community college leadership since the 1960s. I am pleased to see that the College of Education at NC State is focusing on this issue in collaboration with the Aspen Institute and is redesigning its overall Ed.D. program to develop the next generation of community college leaders.
Dr. Templin, currently serves on the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program as a senior fellow and is assisting the College of Education in the enhancement of its community college leadership development programs by serving as a community college executive in residence at NC State. Previously, he led Northern Virginia Community College, the second largest in the nation, for 12 years.
Dr. Templin has also served as president of Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, and president of Thomas Nelson Community College. Dr. Templin is the author of Virginia’s workforce development plan and a strategic plan to transform Virginia into a leading technology state.
He has received numerous local and national awards and recognition for his leadership in technology. Dr. Templin earned his associate’s degree from Harford Community College, his bachelor’s degree from Towson State University, his master’s degree from Georgetown University, and his doctor of education degree from North Carolina State University.