Michael Baston

2023-24 Aspen Presidents Fellow
Michael Baston is the fifth president of Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®) in Cleveland, Ohio. He is a national thought leader on the role of community colleges in shaping educational success; supporting regional workforce needs and economic growth; championing diversity, equity and inclusion reforms; and developing executive leadership teams.

As Tri-C president, Baston focuses on strengthening the College’s 60-year mission of providing high-quality, affordable and accessible education and services. Since becoming president in July 2022, he has promoted access and success for the 41,000 credit and noncredit students attending Tri-C’s four campuses and other locations throughout the Cleveland area.

As a national Guided Pathways and Equity Transfer Initiative coach for the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), Baston is noted for his work with leadership teams at two- and four-year colleges across the nation.

Among many other professional honors and activities, Baston is a member of the AACC board of directors and executive board, chairing its Structured Pathways Commission. He received the National Council on Student Development’s Terry O’Banion Gold Prize in 2015 and the NAACP Community Leadership Award in 2010.

Baston also serves on numerous national boards and committees, including the Aspen Institute’s Rising Presidents Fellowship and the advisory boards for the Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE) and the Century Foundation. He is a fellow and member of the PBCC/HBCC Advisory Committee for Complete College America, a member of the advisory board for the Higher Education Research and Development Institute (HERDI), and serves on the board of directors for the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurs (NACCE).

Baston is also the chair of the Black CEO Network and co-chair of the Policy Leadership Trust at Jobs For the Future, where he is also a member of the Community College Workforce Consortium. He is a trustee of Columbia University’s Teachers College, serves on the advisory boards for College Board and Course Hero, is a member of the board of directors at Cristo Rey Brooklyn High School in New York City and is a member of the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT).

Before leading Ohio’s largest community college, Baston served as president of Rockland Community College in Suffern, New York and as vice president of student affairs and associate provost at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, New York.

Baston holds a B.A. from Iona University, a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School and an Ed.D. from St. John Fisher University.