Gregory Adam Haile, J.D., is president of Broward College in Florida, an institution that has been part of the ATD Network since 2004. Broward College has been a Top Ten finalist for the Aspen Prize five times (including 2023). Since President Haile assumed office in 2018, Broward College has expanded its business model through a community-centric approach to improving higher education access called Broward UP.
President Haile is also the newest member of the Achieving the Dream Board of Directors. To help the Network get to know him better, we asked him a few questions about his experiences and motivations as a community college leader.
What made you first want to work in the community college space?
I was the first person in my immediate or extended family to graduate from college. I grew up in a challenging neighborhood, in Queens, New York, during the height of the crack epidemic. My high school required me to pass through metal detectors. A high school teacher conveyed that I was not college material, and when I arrived at college, I learned that I would need remedial education. As it turned out, higher education transformed my life as I had never imagined. I wanted to do this work because I was driven by the firsthand understanding that, regardless of the challenges, higher education (especially our community colleges) has the unparalleled power to elevate individuals beyond their circumstances.
What is a fun fact about you that most people would find interesting or surprising?
Most people don’t know that beekeeping is a personal hobby of mine. I maintain a hive of about 60,000 honey bees.
What excites you about joining Achieving the Dream’s Board of Directors?
Achieving the Dream buttresses the role of community colleges in transforming communities. In doing so, ATD is lifting our nation. It is an honor to be on the board of this esteemed organization that has embraced the challenge to ensure that access to higher education is not a matter of chance, but a matter of choice. I look forward to supporting ATD’s noble agenda.
How did Broward UP come about, and how does it meet the needs of students?
Broward UP was born of an obligation, a recognition that we were not meeting our obligation, and a refusal to maintain the status quo. Our obligation came from the 1947 President’s Commission on Higher Education (Truman Commission). The Truman Commission charged community colleges to remove geographic and economic barriers, to provide easy access, and to address the then and current reality that the amount of education one attained depended on what community they happened to be born in.
We recognized that we were not meeting the aforementioned obligations when we conducted a self-audit revealing that despite our recognized excellence, despite our relatively low cost, and despite requiring only a high school diploma or its equivalent to obtain admission, relatively few of our students came from our most challenged communities. Now we are meeting the needs of students like we have never before. We stopped asking those who needed us most to take two buses to come to us. We stopped asking those with the least free time to find more time to get to us. We stopped asking individuals to come to the unknown, and instead, we sought to permanently be present in the places and spaces most known to them.
What is one thing college leaders can do today that would improve equity and success for their students tomorrow?
Have the will to cease engaging in efforts that are ineffective, so that you can scale the work that is most effective.