Dr. Barbara Gellman-Danley, president of the Higher Learning Commission in Chicago, Illinois, has been named an International Honorary Member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK).
This recognition is considered PTK’s highest honor for a non-member. The award is not given every year, but only when the Society identifies an individual who has provided extraordinary support to Phi Theta Kappa. In Phi Theta Kappa’s 100-year history, fewer than 40 International Honorary Members have been named.
Gellman-Danley will receive the award during the PTK Presidents Breakfast at the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) annual convention, April 15 in Orlando, Florida.
“Barbara Gellman-Danley is a respected educational leader,” said Dr. George Boggs, Superintendent and President Emeritus of Palomar College in California and Chair of the PTK Board of Directors. “Her focus has been to ensure that students receive quality academic and support services. I am pleased to see that her leadership is being recognized by Phi Theta Kappa.”
Gellman-Danley was named president of the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) — the largest of the seven regional higher education accreditors — in 2014. HLC is responsidble for accrediting post-secondary institutions in 19 states.
“I am deeply honored by this recognition,” she said. “The real winners are the community college students who demonstrate a commitment to excellence in academics. I remember fondly their great pride during Phi Theta Kappa ceremonies. I am always touched and excited about these students’ remarkable success stories.”
Prior to joining HLC, Gellman-Danley served as president of the University of Rio Grande/Rio Grande Community College in Ohio. She has also served as vice chancellor at the Ohio Board of Regents, president at Antioch University McGregor in Ohio, vice president at Monroe Community College in New York, and vice chancellor at the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
“I am incredibly gratified for this distinguished Phi Theta Kappa recognition of Dr. Gellman-Danley, not only for her national and notable leadership in accreditation and higher education, but also for her steadfast commitment to quality and access issues for students,” said Dr. Daniel J. Phelan, President and CEO of Jackson College in MIchigan and Community College Administrator Representative to the PTK Board of Directors.
“As the former president of Rio Grande Community College, she knows particularly well the community college student and the importance of academic recognition, opportunity, and advancement for those students.”
Gellman-Danley has held several board and commission memberships in her career, including the Association of Governing Boards Council of Presidents, the American Council on Education Commission on Education and Attainment, the Council on Adult and Experiential Learning board, and the ETS National Community College Council. She has consulted at more than 30 institutions on strategic planning, the role of technology in higher education, distance learning, and related topics.
She holds a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University, master’s degrees from Simmons College and Oklahoma City University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma. She also did post-graduate work at New York University and earned continuing education from Cornell University, Harvard University, and the University of Chicago.
Gellman-Danley earned her credential as a Certified Professional Coach from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching in 2016 and as an Associate Certified Coach from the International Coaching Federation in 2018. She also earned certification in social and emotional intelligence assessment from the Institute for SEI in 2018.
She is currently enrolled in the Happiness Studies Academy, positive psychology coaching. Her coaching focuses on executive coaching for college presidents.