Community College News

Stay abreast of all the news and reports impacting community colleges. This section covers the latest news stories, from campus protests to Wal-Mart partnerships. Read community college reactions to the latest State of the Union address, identify schools receiving big donations, and analyze the latest laws impacting community colleges and their students.
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The state of Wyoming is demonstrating their commitment to higher education this month with the first ever community college summit. The summit, sponsored by the Wyoming Association of Community College Trustees, drew educators from around the state to discuss the changing role of community colleges and the best ways to meet student needs in the future. The governor of Wyoming, Matt Mead, was also on hand for the event, and addressed the gathering in regards to recent decisions made at the state level for community college and the importance of higher education for the state.

Summit Brings Colleges, Businesses Together
 
The Wyoming Community College Summit brought all seven of the state’s community colleges together and included more than 100 educators from those schools. The summit also saw participation from industry partners, business owners from the state who frequently hired community college graduates for their open positions. KWGN reports that these businessmen and women offered input into what their needs were in terms of employees.
 
“You’ll hear all of them today say, the community colleges are essential to their ability to hire and train productive employees and to grow their businesses,” Steve Bahmer, executive director for the Wyoming Association of Community College Trustees, told KWGN.
 
The meeting between business owners and community college officials could pave the way for new programs at local community colleges, based on the changing needs of businesses in the state. This type of coordination between the business world and higher education has long been . . . read more

While it is important to track the progress and effectiveness of higher education in this country, current standards that apply across the board to both two and four-year institutions do not paint a full picture of the state of postsecondary education today. There are significant differences between four-year universities and two-year community colleges that are simply not addressed in the standards as they are currently written. In most cases, current assessment standards do community colleges an injustice, providing an inaccurate view of how well these schools educate their students.
 
The AACC and the VFA
 
The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) is hoping to change the view of the community college system through a set of defined assessment standards designed just for them. According to the AACC website, the new Voluntary Framework of Accountability (VFA) is the first national accountability system created just for community colleges, taking their unique student demographics and purpose into consideration. The new metrics will be tested out by 58 community colleges initially, according to a brief report in the Chronicle of Higher Education, with the hope that other schools will adopt the framework in the future.
 
The VFA consists of three phase initiative that will encompass many aspects of community college success or failure. When the framework is completed, it will include:

  • A technical manual that will offer an overview of measurement calculations
  • A college framework to guide schools in assessing student learning outcomes
  • A blueprint of data collection to offer an assessment model to participating . . . read more

In an effort to save money and streamline the higher education process, Connecticut has launched a merger of the state’s college system that would create a central board of governance for 12 community colleges, four universities and Charter Oak State College – an online college. The only state school that will remain independent under the new structure is University of Connecticut. While there are many that applaud this change as an effective way to improve the state’s college system overall, others are concerned about exactly how this new merger will impact individual schools with very different missions.

How the Merger Happened and What Students can Expect
 
According to a report at Inside Higher Ed, Connecticut state legislators launched the merger in July, when they created the new Board of Regents for Higher Education to oversee the institutions in the state. Two of the primary reasons for the decision was to save money on higher education overall, as well as to coordinate higher education in the state to ensure students received an education that would prepare them for a lucrative and available job in the future.
 
“The State of Connecticut has to look across higher education,” Gena Glickman, president of Manchester Community College, told Inside Higher Ed. Glickman added that the state needs to determine “whether or not we’re facile enough to meet the needs of each student.”
 
The new Board of Regents will consist of 19 board members, which have not yet been appointed, according to a report at . . . read more

Community colleges have been fertile breeding grounds for students who want to exercise First Amendment rights over the years. However, one group in Seattle that is trying to do the same may be overstaying its welcome on a local community college campus. Seattle Central Community College has become the makeshift campground for the newly formed movement Occupy Seattle. However, after weighing the costs involved with added security and clean-up crews that have become necessary since the group moved in, community college officials are now looking for a way to oust Occupy Seattle from their campus.

Strange Bedfellows
 
Occupy Seattle moved onto the campus of Seattle Central Community College after they were told by city officials they were not allowed to pitch their tents in a municipal park, according to a report at The Seattle Times. The community college appeared to be a prime location for the movement, since the school had no rules on the books in regards to camping on campus. A local teachers’ union even invited the movement in and offered them free classes to help expand their cause, according to Seattle Pi.
 
The publication also reports that officials of the community college were never warm to the idea of allowing members of the movement to set up shop on their grounds and tried to ban the group at first. Without a rule in place to prevent it, however, the response to Occupy Seattle eventually had to be a reluctant “yes.”
 
“The president has made it really . . . read more

Community colleges that are a part of Achieving the Dream have shown they are committed to student success through a range of proven methodology. Those that are named leader colleges each year demonstrate exceptional standards of performance and practice, even among schools that have already been named as some of the top performers in the country. This year’s list of leader colleges provides a broad spectrum of community colleges spanning from coast to coast. We’ll take a look at some of the top community colleges on the 2011 Achieving the Dream leaders list and explore what it takes to become a part of this prestigious organization.

Four Principles Emphasized by Achieving the Dream
 
When it comes to improving student outcomes at community colleges across the country, Achieving the Dream subscribes to four basic principles that are highlighted on the organization’s website:

  • Committed Leadership – This principle states that leaders of community colleges are committed to the success of students across all demographics, rather than simply focusing on enrollment numbers.
  • Use of Evidence to Improve Programs and Services – Schools use data collected to determine gaps in student success and formulate effective strategies for bridging these gaps.
  • Broad Engagement – The success of students at a community college is dependent on collaboration between faculty, administration and student services, as well as constructive feedback from students themselves.
  • Systemic Institutional Improvement – Using the data collected, Achieving the Dream schools create and regularly evaluate programs designed to enhance student success.

While these four principles apply to . . . read more
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