A native of Provo, Utah, Frank Mensel has enjoyed a career he loves primarily serving community colleges in national affairs, initially leading their strong support of Sen. Claiborne Pell in the 1972 enactment of the Pell Grant. He alone served as Congressional liaison for both the Association of Community Colleges and the Association of Community College Trustees. A career journalist also, starting 18 as a reporter for The Salt Lake Tribune, he continues to write as national policy advisor for the American Student Association of Community Colleges, the student-government network he cofounded, and as Senior Fellow with the Education Policy Center of the University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa. His Washington career started as staff director for a Utah congressman. He then served as Assistant Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, and later as Executive Director of the College and University Personnel Association (now College and University Professionals Association for Human Resources). He and his wife, Dr. Bonny Franke, reside in Plano, Texas. Central to his life are three sons and a daughter, three step-daughters, 18 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. A graduate of Brigham Young University with an MS from the University of Utah, he holds an honorary doctorate from Salt Lake Community College and an honorary associate degree from Oakland Community College, Michigan.
FRANK MENSEL‘s career, serving community colleges in national affairs for more than four decades, has spanned these accomplishments:
PELL GRANT — He worked intensively with Senator Claiborne Pell in the 1972 enactment of the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant, later renamed for the senator. Under his lead in Congressional liaison, AACC was the only Washington-based association of collegiate institutions that supported the BEOG. In different roles, he has remained in the forefront of the annual push for Pell Grant funding.
AUTHOR — He has been the most prolifically published writer in the community college movement, through a decade of regular columns in the AACC and ACCT Journals, and an ongoing stream of newsletters and legislative analyses – currently as a Senior Fellow with the Education Policy Center of the University of Alabama.
EEA — He helped lead the 20-year campaign by which the unique coalition of higher education, the National Association of Manufacturers, and organized labor eventually won permanent renewal of Tax Code Section 127, which keeps college courses that enhance job skills, paid for by the employer, tax free to both employee and employer. Community colleges are the most popular choice in the use of EEA, possibly second only to Pell Grants in tuition revenues.
NSF — Robert Watson, then a senior program officer at the National Science Foundation, once told an AACC convention banquet that Mensel “almost singlehandedly” engineered the passage of the Advanced Technical Education Act, which the NSF opposed. Signed into law by President Reagan in 1992, the act boosted NSF grants to community colleges ten-fold in its first year, a pace that has continued through the years.
GI BILL — He worked intensively with Rep. G. V. (Sonny) Montgomery, Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, on the 1985 renewal of the GI Bill, the first to allow service-members to draw the educational benefits while still in uniform. The Montgomery GI Bill made them eligible for this benefit as soon as cleared basic training.
CEF — He was a cofounded, and higher education’s first member, of the Committee for Education, the formidable coalition of associations and institutions that has unified and spearheaded support for funding of federal education programs since 1969. Mensel twice served as vice president and twice as president of CEF.
CRD — He was the godfather of the Council for Resource Development, which grew out of the early ranks of a federal grant program that he coauthored and administered, that enabled development staff from the community colleges to intern with AACC while learning the federal grants process directly from federal-agency specialists.
ASACC — Going on three decades, he continues to mentor student governments on the legislative process and advocacy, with the American Student Association of Community Colleges, which he cofounded. ASACC is the largest student voice making annual visits to Congress, keeping Pell Grants the first priority in pushing essential student needs.
In the 21st century, Mensel remains an active champion of community colleges through research and publication as a Senior Fellow with the Education Policy Center of the University of Alabama, in collaboration with Prof. Stephen Katsinas, the Center Director and another champion of community colleges.