Edward J. Liston’s experience in community colleges stretches more than 40 years from coast to coast. Before he was appointed the second president of Rhode Island Junior College in 1978, he served as president of Los Angeles Pierce College, a community college in Woodland Hills, Calif., for five years. He was founding president of Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, Conn. and has served on the faculty at Jefferson Community College in Watertown, N.Y. and Rockland Community College in Suffern, N.Y.
At the beginning of Liston’s tenure as president in 1980, Rhode Island Junior College officially changed its name to Community College of Rhode Island. With the new name came a new mission that expanded the college’s offerings of off-campus credit and non-credit courses at satellite locations. To generate revenue for the college, which was at a disadvantage to attract external funding and private gifts, Liston established the nonprofit CCRI Foundation. He also opened up the campuses to use by outside groups to build community support for the college.
Liston oversaw the construction and planning for the urban Providence campus, which opened in 1990. At the end of his presidency, he was laying the groundwork for the future, including a major expansion of the Knight Campus, an addition to the Providence campus and the development of a fourth campus on Aquidneck Island.
In 2000, Liston retired from CCRI and published a book, “Recollections of a Pioneer President” to document the milestones of the college’s history. To honor him for his positive impact on CCRI and its graduates, the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education voted to name the Providence campus the Edward J. Liston Campus. He was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 2002.
Liston earned a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York in Albany and a master’s degree in business administration from Ball State University. He completed graduate work in economics and higher education at the University of Missouri, Syracuse University, University of Denver, University of Colorado and New York University. He also participated in the Harvard University Institute for the Management of Lifelong Education.
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