2017 Keynote Speakers

Dr. Michael Baston

Dr. Michael A. Baston is the President at Rockland Community College (SUNY). Prior to this role, he served as Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at LaGuardia Community College (CUNY).

For nearly 20 years Dr. Baston has served in various capacities in higher education including college legal counsel, adjunct faculty member, and dean of students. His research expertise include community college student persistence, student success and student affairs administration. Dr. Baston is a visionary leader, leading the national charge on college completion by helping 10,000 low-income students tap into $20-million in public benefits so that they can afford to stay in school.

At LaGuardia, Dr. Baston managed the largest student services portfolio among CUNY’s 24-college system. His Division encompassed Admissions, Academic Advisement, Career and Transfer Services, International Student Services, Academic Testing, Early Childhood Learning Center, Athletics, Recreation and Intramural Programming, Student Life, Registrar, Financial Aid, Students with Disabilities, and Health Services, as well as special City University of New York (CUNY) retention initiatives including Accelerated Study in Associates Programs (ASAP), College Discovery (CD), and College Opportunity to Prepare for Employment (COPE) program.

He holds an undergraduate degree from Iona College, a JD from Brooklyn Law School and a PhD in Education from St. John Fisher College.


Madeline M. Pumariega

Madeline M. Pumariega is Chancellor of the 28 colleges that make up the Florida College System, which serve more than 800,000 students.   Recognized amongst the top in the nation, the Florida College System is committed to maintaining the highest quality programs to meet Florida’s growing workforce needs and to make sure college is accessible and affordable. Appointed as the first female and Hispanic Chancellor in August 2015, Chancellor Pumariega has worked to build on successes of the Florida College System. Her goal is to ensure that all students have a pathway to complete their degree or professional credential that leads them to their academic goals and ultimately helps them get a job.

A product of the college system herself, Pumariega began her academic career at Miami Dade College and returned to the college where she spent 20 years growing her career culminating as President of the Wolfson Campus. At Miami Dade she is regarded for her work in developing innovative approaches to support academic progress and student success, ensuring that thousands of youth can access and complete college. Pumariega was instrumental in supporting workforce programs by leveraging key partnerships in the community.

Before becoming Chancellor, Pumariega served as president of Take Stock in Children, a statewide non-profit focused on breaking the cycle of poverty through education. Take Stock in Children has helped more than 25,000 students living in poverty successfully complete high school and move into post-secondary education and careers.

Pumariega is a member of the Florida Prepaid College Board, Higher Education Coordinating Council, Florida Council of 100, The Center for Postsecondary Success at Florida State University, City Year Miami and an advisory board member of the Florida College Access Network. She was a Kellogg Fellow for the League for Innovation’s Expanding Leadership Diversity in Community and a graduate of Leadership Florida Class 33.

Chancellor Pumariega holds a Bachelor’s in Political Science from St. Thomas University, Master of Education from Florida Atlantic University and is a doctoral candidate at Barry University.


Dr. Sanford Shugart

Dr. Sanford “Sandy” Shugart has served since 2000 as the fourth president of Valencia College in greater Orlando, Florida.  As winner of the first Aspen Prize for Excellence, Valencia is one of the most celebrated community colleges in America.  Serving some 70,000 students per year, Valencia is known for high rates of graduation, transfer, and job placement and has become something of a national laboratory for best practices in learning-centered education.  Prior to Valencia, Dr. Shugart served as president of North Harris College and as Vice President and Chief Academic Officer of the North Carolina Community College System.  In 2015, he was named by Washington Monthly magazine as one of the ten most innovative college and university presidents in America.  He earned his Ph.D. in Teaching and Learning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  In addition to his career in education, Dr. Shugart is a published poet, musician, and songwriter and author of Leadership in the Crucible of Work: Discovering the Interior Life of an Authentic Leader.


Dr. Evelyn Waiwaiole

Dr. Evelyn Waiwaiole is the Executive Director of the Center for Community College Student Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin (UT).

Prior to coming to the Center for Community College Student Engagement, Dr. Waiwaiole was the Suanne Davis Roueche NISOD Director and Lecturer in the College of Education at UT from 2007 to 2011. In 2006, she led the Bridges to Opportunity initiative, also at UT. She has also served as associate director of NISOD, project manager for the MetLife Foundation Initiative on Student Success, college relations coordinator for the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE), and policy analyst for the Center for Community College Policy at the Education Commission of the States (ECS).

Recognized as a 2002-2003 Associates Fellow with the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, Dr. Waiwaiole is known for her keen awareness of policy leadership and its impact on higher education. She has also served on the ETS National Community College Advisory Committee and the CCSSE National Advisory Board and is the author of articles related to student success, retention, and persistence. In 2009, Dr. Waiwaiole was recognized as a Distinguished Graduate of UT’s Community College Leadership Program.

Dr. Waiwaiole earned a Doctorate from UT in higher education administration, with a specialization in community college leadership; a master’s in economics from The University of Oklahoma; and a bachelor’s in psychology from Texas A&M University.