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College Administrator Part of Inaugural Community College Leadership Academy

SUNY Leadership Class, 2024


Mark Bessette, Assistant Dean for Financial Aid & Access/Title IX Coordinator, was among the first group of faculty and staff members from across the SUNY system to recently complete the inaugural New York State Community College Leadership Academy.

Participants were nominated by senior leaders on their campuses based on their proven leadership and experience. In all, 34 staff and faculty members from across SUNY’s 30 community colleges completed the fellowship. The leadership development program is designed for emerging leaders to strengthen their critical skills and knowledge to build their campus’s capacity and improve student outcomes. 

Mark Bessette assisting student in Financial Aid Office

Bessette has been at SUNY Schenectady since 2016, first hired as Director of Financial Aid. He was promoted to his current position in 2018. He has guided thousands of students and their families through the financial aid process, while leading a team of knowledgeable staff members in the Financial Aid Office. Bessette has served on the ReaCH, Retention Analytics, Enrollment Management, Strategic Planning, and DEI Committees, among others.

“Being nominated by Dr. Moono to participate in the fellowship was unexpected and an honor,” Bessette said. “The fellows met monthly for the past year and we discussed a variety of topics; everything from strengthening community partnerships to strategic finance operations at the College. The experience provided an opportunity to think about what we do every day in a different way. It has given me new tools and an expanded mindset as I move forward at the College. Most valuable is the relationships that were formed with my colleagues from across SUNY and System Administration.”

New York State, along with Ohio, Michigan, and Texas, were selected to launch and scale up leadership development programs for college practitioners through a year-long curriculum from the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program. The program is funded by the Ascendium Education Group, the ECMC Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation, to strengthen the pipeline of leaders within community colleges who can implement evidence-based reforms that help more students succeed.

“We are very proud of the knowledge and skill of the talented faculty and staff across SUNY's community colleges,” said SUNY Chancellor John B. King Jr. “The New York State Community College Leadership Academy reflects SUNY’s commitment to developing the next generation of leaders who will strengthen our communities, elevate student success, and ensure New York State has a pipeline of talented and visionary leaders.”