Dr. Ken Atwater recipient of this year’s Diverse Champions Award


The Diverse Champions Award recognizes higher education leaders who have shown unwavering commitment
to equal opportunity and access for all, particularly at the community college level.

Dr. Ken Atwater became the seventh president of Hillsborough Community College (HCC) - the seventh largest community college in Florida’s State College System, serving more than 45,000 students each year at its five campuses and three centers – on July 1, 2010. Under his leadership student graduation rates have increased by 50 percent. Over his three decade span of higher education leadership he has been recognized as a collaborative leader with an unwavering commitment to student success.

Dr. Atwater currently serves as chair of the Tampa-Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation Foundation of which he is a past Chair of the Board, serves on the Board of Directors for the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship and is on the American Association of Community Colleges Higher Education Reauthorization Task Force of which he is also a past Chair of the Board.

More about the Diverse
Champions Award


The award was created by Diverse: Issues In Higher Education in 2012 upon the retirement of the inaugural Diverse Champions Award winner, Dr. John E. Roueche, as director of the Community College Leadership Program (CCLP) at the University of Texas at Austin. Of the more than 500 CCLP graduates produced during his 40-plus year tenure at CCLP, more than 60 percent are women and people of color.

The Diverse Champions Award is given to individuals who have made similarly extraordinary contributions to the world of higher education.

The April 18, 2019, edition of Diverse will contain a tribute to Dr. Ken Atwater. Please join us and many other institutions, organizations, and colleagues in this recognition of his career achievements
by placing a congratulatory/celebratory message.*

Past Recipients


  • 2018: Co-recipients: Dr. Suanne Davis Roueche (posthumously) and Dr. Christine Johnson McPhail, founder of the Community College Leadership Doctoral Program at Morgan State University (MD)
  • 2017: Dr. Kay McClenney, Senior Adviser to the President and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges
  • 2016: Dr. Terry O’Banion, Former President of the League for Innovation in the Community College
  • 2015: Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón, President of Miami Dade College
  • 2014: Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton, Former President of Cuyahoga Community College
  • 2013: Dr. Walter G. Bumphus, President and CEO of American Association of Community Colleges
  • 2012: Dr. John E. Roueche, Former Director of the Community College Leadership Program at The University of Texas at Austin