Armstrong celebrates tenth year as BC president, shares experience
This year marks President Armstrong’s tenth anniversary as leader of Broward College. Armstrong is the sixth president of BC and so far, his decade-long leadership is full of prosperity for the college and its people. Raised just outside Birmingham, Alabama, Armstrong has over 30 years of experience in higher education. He started working at Pensacola Junior College and later as Chancellor for Florida’s College System in Tallahassee right before coming to BC.
Armstrong, a strong supporter of education, studied a combination of social sciences as an undergraduate. He later obtained his masters in management and did doctoral coursework in higher education leadership. As a student, he was highly involved in Student Life activities, serving as managing editor for the student newspaper as well as editor for the literary and arts magazine. His involvement in the student newspaper gave him insight into the world of journalism.
“I have a great respect and appreciation for journalism,” he said. “I think it’s great training for lots of things and people in the public sector.”
After college, he worked at several small newspapers in different towns. He would later go on to serve as adviser of the newspaper when he started working at Pensacola College. As president of BC, Armstrong’s goals focus on students’ success. For that, he’s worked very hard to implement innovative teaching techniques, make as many student services as possible available, and promote faculty’s professional development sessions.
“We believe that all students can succeed. You just have to provide them with great tools,” he said. “What we are trying to collectively do to encourage our students to be successful is to be persistent, to have grit.”
“The key to success isn’t always how smart you are,” he added.
As part of the efforts to guarantee students’ success, Armstrong believes the key is having a strong faculty body. For that, he’s invested in faculty development programs, seminars and conferences. The goal is to teach them innovative techniques to help students inside and outside the classroom.
“A lot of research is telling us that students learn better with these more innovative practices,” said Armstrong.
Additionally, he’s a strong supporter of programs such as the Academic Success Centers (ASC), which he believes are of great help to students. When he took over, BC wasn’t exactly at a great place and he recognized the problems and obstacles he would face and he wanted to address them.
“We had a lot of issues when I took over and we have addressed them already, including accreditation, student learning, etc., so we needed to get that under control and we did. We had a great team,” he said.
And the hard work he put into these issues has paid off. BC has made the Aspen’s Institute Top 10 ranking twice in less than five years, and last year it was named a Finalist with Distinction, finishing third in the nation. The college has also made several other rankings during his leadership, including second place in the Best Community Colleges of 2017.
“It’s a recognition of the great work everyone at the college does.”
Another achievement for Armstrong was to obtain a perfect accreditation review.
“For the first time in the history of the college, we had a perfect accreditation review. We had no exceptions or problems. I was very proud,” he said.
But regardless of all of the accomplishments to date, Armstrong thinks of everything he still has left to do.
“We also want to expand some of the career opportunities for students who want to get a certificate or two-year degree and want to go straight to work,” Armstrong said. “We talk a lot about continuous improvement. We want to work on getting more students enrolled, but more importantly we want to help our current students to complete every course successfully.”
And for Armstrong, all these years of investing in the students’ well-being pays off every year during the graduation ceremony, which he admits gives him great pride.
“The graduation ceremony is one of the most special times for us. To see students come across the stage and hear their stories of where they are going next, that’s where all of us get most of our joy out of working here at the college,” he said.
Looking at these past ten years of Armstrong’s strong leadership, we can be sure that his legacy at BC will be a great one. And if there’s anything he wants his legacy to be is to inspire everyone to be passionate.
“I want all of our students and employees to have passion in life, in any subject matter or major, and to really want to excel. I want them all to be passionate in whatever they do,” said Armstrong.