In its first 100 years, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) assisted new colleges and new leaders through booms and busts. What do the next 100 years hold? Maybe we don’t know what 2120 will look like, but AACC is looking forward to the next decade and setting its priorities and goals.
This article comes from the current issue of the Community College Journal, which AACC has published since 1930.
AACC is taking equity to a new level. Equity has not been achieved despite the gains that have been achieved in success-focused programs. AACC’s Unfinished Business will tackle equity in a different way by looking at the DNA of many equity issues — not simply identify the issues themselves. This work will create ways of thinking about barriers to success and provide tools to transform how we as community college leaders address equity issues and create solutions to eradicate them.
Most students enroll in community college with the intention of transferring to a four-year institution — about 80 percent, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. But NSC data also show that only 29 percent of community college students who started in fall 2011 actually transferred to a four-year institution within six years. AACC will launch an equity-minded transfer initiative in collaboration with other higher education associations designed to increase the number of African-American, Hispanic, first-generation and adult students transferring between two- and four-year institutions.
Focus on small and rural colleges
A planned new initiative will focus on capacity- building at small and rural community colleges. A priority will be to assist these institutions with refreshing their career and technical education programs to meet student and employer needs. Another priority will be mapping stackable credentials into degrees to ensure students never reach a dead end. Whether a student stays in their community or moves away, they will have the skills to get a good-paying job.
In 2018, AACC amped up its efforts to engage with community college faculty. There were special sessions at the annual convention for faculty, and the association launched the Dale P. Parnell Faculty Distinction Recognition to applaud those who make a difference every day in (and out of) the classroom. Understanding that faculty are the lynchpin of the student success agenda, AACC launched in 2019 the Faculty Ambassador program to better communicate with faculty. That was just the start. Stay tuned for more faculty opportunities through AACC.
Support student parents
About 22 percent of all undergraduates in the United States are parents, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. The majority of mothers in college are single parents. And the largest share of student parents enroll in community colleges (42 percent). AACC will host a parent-learner summit in 2020 and going forward will work to help colleges better support parent-learners.
Keeping our seat at the table
AACC continues to lead the way in policy matters by working across the aisle to ensure that federal officials know who to turn to when it comes to accessible postsecondary education. Whether traditional or workforce education, community colleges maintain a stellar reputation amongst the nation’s top legislators and are often called upon to work with government and industry to develop solutions for America’s workforce.