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Community colleges have become highly visible in public policy in the last year. The once step-child of higher education is being heralded as a key player in reviving economic opportunity for workers and national competitiveness for the United States. A key drive of this intense interest is the Obama administration’s American Graduation Initiative which is poised to infuse more than $12 billion into the nation’s 1,000+ community colleges over the next 10 years. This investment has the potential to be transformative.
Yet, will it be a thoughtful transformation? Since their great expansion in 1947, with President Harry Truman’s Commission on Higher Education, community colleges have evolved to embrace three core activities: university transfer education, occupational education, and developmental education. They currently exist in more or less tension with one another. The integration of these activities through the lens of student success is the key to realizing the promise of community colleges as engines of economic opportunity and competitiveness.
Dr. Jill Biden
Brenda Dann-Messier, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education
Paper presentation: Re-imagining Community Colleges in the 21st Century
Brian Pusser, co-author; associate professor, University of Virginia; director, Center for the Study of Higher Education, University of Virginia
Keith Bird, Chancellor Emeritus, Kentucky Community and technical College system
Paper presentation: Models Of Postsecondary Success For Low-Income Adults And Youth: Community College And Workforce System Partnerships
Harry J. Holzer, co-author; professor, Georgetown Public Policy Institute
Demetra S. Nightingale, co-author; principal research scientist, Johns Hopkins University Institute for Policy Studies
Gail Mellow, president, LaGuardia Community College
Paper presentation: Community College and Apprenticeship as Collaborative Routes to Rewarding Careers
Robert I. Lerman, author; professor of economics, American University
Susan Schurman, dean, University College Community, Rutgers University
Louis Soares, Director, Postsecondary Education Program, Center for American Progress