President Gail O. Mellow
Dr. Gail O. Mellow has served as President of LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, Queens since 2000. A member of the City University of New York (CUNY) system, LaGuardia is nationally recognized as an innovative leader among community colleges for pioneering programs and innovative teaching methods that have become pilots for the nation. A nationally recognized expert on the history, development and future of the American community college, Dr. Mellow co-authored Minding the Dream: The Process and Practice of the American Community College (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008), in addition to numerous articles and editorials about issues facing higher education in America. Dr. Mellow is a frequent voice on higher education issues in the media. Her expertise is most frequently sought on the changing landscape of higher education, strategies for improving the nation’s graduation rate and the important role community colleges play in America’s economic recovery. She has been extensively quoted in a range of publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek and Bloomberg News among them. Dr. Mellow has appeared on radio and television broadcasts, including on PBS's FRONTLINE, MSNBC and has participated in a debate with college presidents from public, private and for-profit institutions about the future of higher education in America aired on PBS stations across the nation.
Since Dr. Mellow joined LaGuardia in 2000, the College has won numerous awards, among them the prestigious 2006 MetLife Foundation Community College Excellence Award for Service to Underserved Students, and was named one of the Top Three Large Community Colleges by the Community College Survey of Student Engagement in 2003. Under Dr. Mellow’s leadership, over $16 million in external funding through grants and contracts is secured each year for workforce development programs initiatives that support at-risk students and creative approaches that help businesses grow and create jobs. Under Dr. Mellow’s leadership the College was invited by the Goldman Sachs Foundation to be the anchor college for the 10,000 Small Businesses initiative that provides entrepreneurs and small businesses with education and resources designed to help them grow and thrive. The College has also received numerous federal grants to help other colleges incorporate student-developed electronic portfolios (e-Portfolio) into their students’ course work and as a tool to assess learning over time. The College’s non-credit programs, ranging from GED preparation to English language programs, have garnered broad funding support and have become models for the nation.
Dr. Mellow was appointed by the Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to the Department’s newly formed Academic Advisory Council in 2012, and serves on the boards of Jobs for the Future, Comprehensive Development, Inc.; Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning and the Research Foundation of the City of New York. As Vice Chair of the National Commission on Higher Education Attainment she helped develop recommendations to boost college completion in the U.S. Her work on the Century Foundation’s Task Force on Preventing Community Colleges from Becoming Separate and Unequal seeks to ensure equality in funding and resources for two-year institutions. In addition, Dr. Mellow is co-creator of Global Skills College Completion (GSCC), a $3.6 million Gates Foundation-funded project designed to innovate developmental instruction methods and improve the graduation rate. In demand as a speaker both here and abroad, Dr. Mellow has shared her expertise with educators and public officials in several countries, including Greece, France and China. Dr. Mellow was instrumental to facilitating a collaboration with educational and government leaders that led to the creation of Chile’s first community college.
Dr. Mellow received an A. A. from Jamestown Community College, a B.A. from SUNY Albany, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa, and her M.A. and Ph.D. from The George Washington University in Social Psychology.