With 30 years of experience in higher education and the nonprofit sector, Dr. Meghan Hughes became the fifth president of the Community College of Rhode Island on Feb. 1, 2016. CCRI is the largest community college in New England with four main campuses. The college serves more than 40,000 Rhode Islanders annually and boasts more than 80,000 alumni.
As president, Hughes leads ongoing transformation at the community college with an unwavering focus on student success. She is committed to providing Rhode Islanders with an outstanding education that leads to strong learning outcomes, successful degree attainment, and robust labor market outcomes. 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.
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. In just three years, the RI Promise Scholarship program resulted in a 15% increase in the overall college-going rate in Rhode Island, a 146% increase in enrollment of students of color, and a 71% increase in enrollment of low-income students.
Led by 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 is the leading educational partner for General Dynamics Electric Boat for its submarine building facilities in New London, CT and Quonset, RI. More recently, CCRI launched the state’s first GWO training program in support of multiple offshore wind farms expected to be constructed in the coming years.
Hughes has overseen record-setting growth in philanthropic support for CCRI, including the college’s first ever million-dollar private donation for the creation of a Promise Plus program and a $1.7 million-dollar federal Title III grant to support CCRI’s “Promoting Pathways to Progress” initiative to improve degree completion. In addition, Hughes has set an ambitious goal to raise $25 million by 2025 for the college’s endowment.
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. In addition, she serves as a member on the Council on Competitiveness, the College Board’s Community College Advisory Panel, United States Congressman David Cicilline’s Women’s Advisory Council, and the Rhode Island Commodores.
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.
Hughes graduated magna cum laude from Yale University and holds a doctorate from New York University.