Innovative higher education leader to begin tenure in March 2024
Nov. 30, 2023 (Denver) — Today, Joe Garcia, chancellor of the Colorado Community College System (CCCS), announced Dr. Landon Pirius as the tenth president of Red Rocks Community College (RRCC). Enrolling more than 10,000 students annually, RRCC is one of the largest colleges within CCCS and is home to two campuses in Lakewood and Arvada.
With 25 years of experience in higher education, Dr. Pirius has led impactful, statewide initiatives to advance student outcomes, promote equity and inclusion, and forge community and industry partnerships. He currently serves as the Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs for CCCS and will succeed current president Dr. Michele Haney on March 18, 2024, following her planned retirement.
Dr. Pirius emerged as the successful candidate following an extensive nationwide search process. An advisory committee carefully reviewed applications from over 80 experienced applicants. The college also hosted campus visits and open forums that sought input from community members.
“Dr. Pirius has been behind some of the most transformative work we have undertaken at CCCS and has a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing our colleges,” said Chancellor Garcia. “This experience, paired with his extensive background in student and academic affairs, will allow Dr. Pirius to make an immediate impact at RRCC and deliver a clear vision for its future.”
After accepting the position, Dr. Pirius expressed excitement for the opportunity and reiterated his commitment to Colorado students.
I am eager to join this exceptional community and will be dedicated to further bolstering its thriving campus culture and future where all graduates have pathways to prosperity and a vibrant learning environment. – Dr. Landon Pirius
“Upon joining the Colorado Community College System, I quickly discovered that Red Rocks Community College is a special place with a welcoming community,” Dr. Pirius said. “From its strong academic offerings to its groundbreaking collaborations with industry and the community, RRCC has pioneered some of the most unique programs in the country. I am honored to continue my service as Red Rocks’ next president and look forward to providing leadership that inspires innovation, fosters inclusiveness and trust, and empowers students and employees to thrive.”
At CCCS, Dr. Pirius has overseen several systemwide initiatives to expand access to education and training. He has spearheaded the implementation of Colorado Online, a next-generation online learning model that allows students to take asynchronous courses and programs from all 13 CCCS colleges. He also supported work to establish the Rural College Consortium, which streamlines courses and services across several rural institutions to provide joint synchronous programs and received an $8.6 million investment from the General Assembly.
Working closely with faculty, Dr. Pirius led the transformation of developmental education by deploying a co-requisite model systemwide. Today, just 3 percent of CCCS students enroll in traditional development education courses—down from 15 percent—and pass rates have improved for gateway English and math courses. The shift has also narrowed academic success gaps among white students and students of color.
Beyond these efforts, Dr. Pirius played a critical role in expanding workforce development programs in Colorado. In recent years, his strategic planning played a critical role in securing more than $100 million in federal, state, and philanthropic funding to build stackable education pathways in high-need sectors, including health care, behavioral health, and renewable energy. Dr. Pirius’s leadership also paved the way for the state’s zero-cost training programs for community and technical colleges, Care Forward Colorado and Career Advance Colorado, that have already trained more than 5,000 students for in-demand jobs.
Prior to joining CCCS, Dr. Pirius served as the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs for North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. There, he administered a multimillion-dollar budget and led strategic planning for the college’s academic offerings. He also built relationships with K-12 school districts that boosted participation in the college’s dual enrollment program and established an on-campus transfer center with six universities.
Dr. Pirius graduated from the prestigious Aspen Rising Presidents Fellowship and has served on many boards and commissions, including the Colorado Commission of Higher Education and the WICHE Alliance Executive Committee. He is eager to bring this state and national expertise back to a college campus, where he began his career in higher education.
“I believe that people and institutions are stronger when we build on our collective success,” Dr. Pirius said. “RRCC’s distinguished 50-year history and nationally known reputation reflect the positive impact of visionary, dedicated, and resourceful faculty, staff, students, and partners. I am eager to join this exceptional community and will be dedicated to further bolstering its thriving campus culture and future where all graduates have pathways to prosperity and a vibrant learning environment.”
About Red Rocks Community College
Since 1969, Red Rocks Community College (RRCC) has supported students in meeting ambitious career and education goals in an exciting, collaborative environment with multiple pathways to success. We deliver career enhancing courses, certificate programs, and degrees that invest in each student’s personal and professional development. Learn more at https://www.rrcc.edu.
About Colorado Community College System
The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) is the state’s largest system of higher education, delivering more than 1,000 programs to over 113,000 students annually through 13 colleges and 35+ locations across Colorado. Our open access mission ensures all Coloradans who aspire to enrich their lives have access to quality higher education opportunities. The System Office provides leadership, advocacy, and support to the colleges under the direction of the State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education (SBCCOE). Join us in changing the way Colorado goes to college. Learn more at www.cccs.edu.