Celebrating Extraordinary Leaders: Meet the Higher Education Difference Maker Award Recipients

Each year, the Destination High Performance conference unites exceptional higher education leaders from across the nation to share innovative solutions to practical challenges. At DHP Higher Education, we honor these passionate leaders with the Difference Maker Award, celebrating those who significantly impact students, employees, and communities. This prestigious award highlights individuals dedicated to advancing education in remarkable ways.

Higher Education Difference Maker Award Recipients

  • Dr. Kristine Strickland | Chancellor, Fletcher Technical Community College
  • Dr. Rick Bateman, Jr. | Chancellor, Bossier Parish Community College
  • Dr. Natalie Harder | Chancellor, South Louisiana Community College

Meet the Difference Makers


Dr. Kristine Strickland, Chancellor of  Fletcher Technical Community College • Louisiana

Dr. Kristine Strickland with her Difference Maker Award at DHP Higher Education 2024 alongside her team from Fletcher Community College

Dr. Kristine Strickland has been the Chancellor of Fletcher Technical Community College since 2016. In 2019, she partnered with Studer Education to define and operationalize Fletcher’s cultural values. Like many higher education leaders over the past decade, Dr. Strickland has navigated budget cuts, the impacts of COVID-19, and for Gulf Coast leaders, the devastation of hurricanes. Most notably, just as Fletcher was beginning to recover from COVID-19, Dr. Strickland guided the college through Hurricane Ida, a category 4 storm that directly hit the area in August 2021.

As Chancellor, Dr. Strickland prioritizes making a positive impact on the community through education. She has demonstrated excellence, creativity, and innovation by providing flexible learning opportunities and aligning resources to support faculty, staff, and students, effectively guiding the college through the challenges of recent years. Under her leadership, Fletcher continues to thrive:

  • From the 2020-21 baseline (pre-Ida) to 2023-24, there has been a 10% increase in unique student headcount, adding 583 students, with summer 2024 enrollments still to come.
  • Fletcher is close to achieving its 2026 goal of enrolling 50,000 SCH during the academic year, reaching 48,552 in 2023-24, an 11.8% increase from the 2020-21 baseline.
  • The college has surpassed its 2026 Strategic Plan goals for “increasing and improving partnerships,” achieving 123% of the annual target in partnership numbers and 134% of the target for alternative revenue sources.
  • She and her team use scorecards and quarterly strategy cycles to refine systems, reset priorities, and tackle difficult conversations.
  • Fletcher has been named a Best College to Work for since 2019!
  • Among higher education institutions, Fletcher leads with an institutional NPS score greater than 80.
  • Fletcher’s 3-year average rating on the Community Impact Survey is 8.25/10.
  • Fletcher is designated as a Center for Workforce Excellence in Integrated Production Technologies by the state of Louisiana and is a pilot college for the Community College Resiliency Center.

Dr. Strickland’s leadership has earned her numerous accolades, including the 2022 Athena Leadership Award from the Women’s Business Alliance of the Bayou Region. She is also a member of the Committee of 100 for Economic Development – Louisiana’s Business Roundtable. We are honored to add “Difference Maker” to her many recognitions.

Listen to Dr. Strickland on the Accelerate Your Performance Podcast:


Dr. Rick Bateman, Jr., Chancellor of  Bossier Parish Community College • Louisiana

Dr. Rick Bateman, Jr., Chancellor of Bossier Parish Community College, accepting his 2023 Difference Maker Award at DHP Higher Education.

Since becoming Chancellor of Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC) in 2015, Dr. Rick Bateman, Jr. has emphasized the importance of “community” at the College, fostering and accelerating partnerships that place student care at their core. Here are three key examples highlighting the commitment of local resources and employers to student success, a central pillar of BPCC’s strategic plan:

  • In 2019, BPCC expanded its partnership with Louisiana Tech to address regional and national cybersecurity needs. This expansion included a new Veterans Resource Center, serving active-duty military and veteran students, and offering regional programming for veterans.
  • The partnership with Willis Knighton Health Systems led to the creation of an LPN to RN program, enabling full-time Willis Knighton employees to earn an associate degree in nursing and become registered nurses.
  • Supported by the Louisiana Board of Regents, Dr. Bateman and BPCC, in collaboration with Baton Rouge Community College, Grambling State University, LSU Shreveport, Nicholls State University, and Southern University at New Orleans, will lead the establishment of the Louisiana Cyber Academy (LCA), aiming to revolutionize cybersecurity education across the state.

In 2020, BPCC opened the Cavalier Care Center to centralize services that address barriers to student success. Partnered with Single Stop USA, the Center offers connections to SNAP, WIC, Medicaid, and EITC, a food pantry, career closet, laptop loan program, and information on affordable housing and childcare.

  • The Center has received numerous recognitions, including the “Hunger-Free Campus” designation from the Louisiana Board of Regents in 2022.
  • It has been recognized for its impact on student success, with goals focused on increased access, retention, graduation, completion, and closing equity gaps.
  • In 2022, BPCC was one of eight community colleges in the U.S. selected to participate in the Institute for Evidence-Based Change’s (IEBC) Caring Campus initiative, which aims to improve educational outcomes and support underserved populations.

In recognition of Dr. Bateman’s dedication to student and community care, he was named a Studer Education Difference Maker in Higher Education in 2023.

Listen to Dr. Bateman on the Accelerate Your Performance Podcast:

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