AACC Commission Challenges Community CollegesPaul Bradley, Editor, Community College Week
The American Association of Community Colleges has issued a list of ambitious goals to help its 1,200 member colleges prosper in an era of heightened expectations and diminished financial resources.
ORLANDO, Fla – The American Association of Community Colleges has issued a list of ambitious goals to help its 1,200 member colleges prosper in an era of heightened expectations and diminished financial resources.
Opening its 92nd annual convention a short distance from the AACC outlined the recommendations of its 21st Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges, a 38-member panel which has meeting for the nearly the past year to devise ways to meet the Obama Administration’s goal of adding 5 million degree- or certificate-holders by 2020.
“We need to completely reimagine community colleges for today and the future,” said Walter G. Bumphus, AACC’s president and CEO. “It is important that college graduates be not just globally competitive but globally competent, understanding their roles as citizens and workers in an international context. In today’s knowledge economy, intellectual capital is a nation’s greatest, most renewable resource.”
The commission began its work with a two-fold charge: to safeguard the fundamental open-access mission of community colleges, while at he same time embracing a new future based on student success.
The commission called on colleges to:
“This report is intended to be a bold roadmap, a working document, for community colleges to use as they implement these recommendations,” Bumphus said. The AACC plans to establish a 21st Century Center to help colleges with planning, leadership development and research.
The report comes at a critical time for American higher education. The country has slipped to 16th in college completion rates among 25- to 34-year olds. At the same time, by 2018, nearly two-thirds of all jobs will require some kind of post-secondary academic credential.
The educational gaps have potentially dire consequences for the American middle class, already under pressure by slow wage growth, job outsourcing and government policies tilted toward the well-to-do. The report said that community colleges are critical to preserving and growing the middle class. But meeting the challenge will require colleges to dramatically redesign their missions and the student educational experiences, the report said.
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