Thursday, July 31, 2008

Community Colleges - Our Time is Now

A recent series of articles in USA Today that focused on community colleges captured the essence of what I've seen emerging over the past few years. Global forces are underway and changing the nature of how we live and work. These changes amplify the importance of our mission and position community colleges to make a significant difference in meeting the needs of our communities, states and country.

The article in the link above was the first in the series and was very well done – highlighting the nimble nature of community colleges in providing transitional/college-prep courses, career education and transfer education and how our efforts to reach out to under served populations are critical to supplying a competitive and trained workforce. Our ability to provide English as Second Language for the refugee and immigrant populations here and G.E.D. equivalent experiences for others helps us to move people through employment services versus social services. MVCC began as a technical institute and our career programs are as strong as they've ever been with our connections with local businesses growing stronger by the day. Over the past two decades the transfer programs at MVCC have increased significantly and with the economics of college tuition, we continue to see students even more readily choose to get their start at MVCC before transferring to a four-year institution. The small class sizes and supportive environment provide opportunities for thousands who seek a place to learn and develop skills while they clarify and advance their career paths.

I once worked with a talented administrator who would often counter the statement, "we can't be all things to all people" with a semantic twist - "we can be different things to different people." As an open access institution, our work in offering credit and non-credit programs has never been more important or significant when placed in the context of the challenges faced by our local community. Our country probably has a few more years of negative references made to community colleges made out of ignorance and attempts at cheap humor. However, as millions continue to flock to community colleges nationwide and more information is shared through national media, I am very confident that the miracles that happen every day on community college campuses will become more and more evident throughout our country. What do you think? Let me know at presblog@mvcc.edu.